Pressure and its often debilitating consequences can form a worrying backdrop to pivotal football matches and nowhere is this more evident than in a Scottish Cup semi final. It is against this background that Rangers host Dundee United at Ibrox on Saturday, a controversial choice of venue which United sought, unsuccessfully, to reverse.
Despite enjoying an effective home advantage, Rangers kick off as Stan James’s 3/1 underdogs to progress to the final, whereas the Terrors can be backed at 6/5 (Paddy Power) to win inside 90 minutes and Ladbrokes chalk 5/2 about the draw. United have beaten Rangers twice in cup ties in the last two seasons without conceding a goal.
Elsewhere, William Hill rate the chances of Rangers progressing to the cup final following a drawn opening period as a 7/1 shot, while Ladbrokes post 5/1 against the scores being level at 45 and at 90 minutes and the tie heading into extra time.
Punters who believe that Rangers can finish the game off inside 90 minutes can get 22/1 (BetVictor.com) against them winning 2-0. Alternatively, a 2-1 success for the Tannadice side is priced at 8/1 by bet365.
Meanwhile, St Johnstone face Aberdeen at Ibrox on Sunday, a tie they start as Stan James’s 5/2 underdogs.
St Johnstone have failed to score against Aberdeen in four attempts this season, a record which explains why the likelihood of them winning by a margin of one goal on Sunday is priced at 4/1 by Skybet. However, on current form – the Saints are second only to Celtic having lost only two of their last eight league matches – punters may feel they’re capable of improving upon this season’s miserable performances against Aberdeen and Betway chalk 13/2 about it ending one apiece.
With defences often in the mood to present unexpected Easter gifts to their opponents, Paddy Power’s even money for Sunday’s lunchtime semi to yield more than 2.5 goals is worth considering, as is the 5/6 available at Winner.com for both teams to score.