By Saikat Mandal

17th Apr, 2022 | 7:00am

Barry Ferguson worried for Rangers players ahead of Celtic clash

Barry Ferguson is thrilled to see Rangers reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League after beating Braga 3-2 on aggregate.

It has taken a herculean effort from Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side to turn the deficit and went on to seal the victory in the extra time.

And that is what concerns Ferguson, as he saw Rangers players looking tired on the pitch against Braga, having given their everything on the pitch.

The preparation is far from ideal ahead of their Scottish Cup semi-final clash against Celtic at Hampden on Sunday.

“If there was one tiny bit of regret from the win, it’s that the game going into extra time was not ideal in terms of [the] Scottish Cup semi-final,” wrote Ferguson for the Daily Record.

“There will be tired legs and heavy legs. It certainly looked as I watched extra time that there were a few tired boys out there and little wonder.

“They left everything out on that pitch. It needed to be that way and what I loved to see is that they really enjoyed it amongst themselves and with the supporters. 

“You do that, go into the dressing room, cuddle each other, have a shower and the minute you walk out of that front door, the focus goes on to Hampden. It is just a case of doing everything right in between the matches to make sure you recover as best you can and there will be after effects.

“But the great thing about it is you are playing your fiercest rivals. Adrenalin will get you through and energy reserves will come from somewhere because it is the semi-final of the Scottish Cup against Celtic.”

Big match

Ferguson is spot on here. This is certainly not an ideal preparation ahead of the Old Firm clash.

Rangers have lost twice against Celtic this season, and Giovanni van Bronckhorst will look to avoid a third defeat in a row.

At the same time, a victory over Celtic gives Rangers the perfect opportunity to win domestic silverware this season.

Having said that, there won’t be any teams in Scotland around who don’t want to be in Rangers’ situation at the moment. Playing in European competitions and fighting for the domestic cup – are the challenges players wish to live for.

Obviously, having played an extra time means, the Rangers players could struggle with fatigue come Sunday, but the sheer thought of facing Celtic will keep them charged.

There’s a lot at stake, especially pride. The players should be fired up for this, and they can take the victory against Braga as a big motivation ahead of the Sunday clash.

In other Rangers news, a BBC pundit has been left in awe of the Gers’ Europa League journey after their Braga win.