Rangers v Hibs: five key factors

Farid El Alagui could make an impact off the bench for Hibs. Pic: Jane Barlow
Farid El Alagui could make an impact off the bench for Hibs. Pic: Jane Barlow
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Ahead of tonight’s first leg of the Premiership play-off semi-final, we take a look at five key areas that could define the showdown at Ibrox.

• Hibs’ 18-day break between the final day of the regular season and tonight’s game may work for or against them. The time to reinvigorate at the end of a demanding season could be a pivotal factor in who progresses from this play-off semi-final. Then again, Rangers have kept momentum playing two competitive ties against Queen of the South. That could work to their advantage.

• Hibs’ record against Rangers this season is extremely encouraging. They won three of four league meetings between the clubs and only lost in extra-time with ten men in the Petrofac Training Cup. However, the arrival of Stuart McCall, pictured below, as manager has steadied the ship at Ibrox and Rangers are now a better organised side with him in charge.

• Having striker Farid El Alagui fit would be a considerable boost to Hibs. The Frenchman’s knee injury is healing and coach Alan Stubbs will take a late decision on whether he will be involved tonight. Even naming him on the bench would be an advantage.

• Almost 50,000 people watched the second leg of Rangers’ play-off quarter-final with Queen of the South. There is no doubt a full Ibrox helps the hosts, provided they can harness the support and get fans behind them. In contrast,
less than 1000 Hibs fans will be 
in attendance tonight.

• Pressure may well be the 
biggest factor. Rangers 
haven’t coped well on the big occasion this season and face Hibs having won 
only two of their last six matches. The Hibees, meanwhile, have a reputation for struggling to cope in high-octane matches and they don’t get any more intense than the play-offs.