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Discussion Starter #1
After the weekend we could be on our way to the second cup final at Hampden of the season and be odds on favourites to lift it. While I don't doubt that Saints and Queens will put up a stiffer test than most would imagine we have to be glad that is is second tier opposition that stands between us and the Scottish Cup rather than teams from our own level.

St Johnstone didn't have too tough a time getting to this stage. The team that currently sits 3rd in SFL1 nearly blew it in the quarters against St Mirren having to come from behind to earn a 1:1 draw at McDiarmid but in the replay they showed a different side. They crushed St Mirren on their own patch and the 3:1 won was flattering on the SPL side. It was a night where everything came off for them. Hopefully it won't on Sunday but we can not underestimate them as it was only last season that they won 2:0 at Ibrox to knock Paul Le Guen's Rangers out of the CIS cup.

It will be a different Rangers side they face from that night and they are different too- as both managers have now left. Walter Smith will freshen things up but will try not to change too much. I'd imagine he'd like to go with the side that beat Partick in the last round if possible but some other factors may come into his thinking. Thomson will start as he is unavailable midweek and as Ferguson is unavailable too for the visit of Fiorentina Smith will have a decision to make on whether to start him or keep him on the bench. Away to Partick he kept Ferguson on standby which I'd imagine was due to the fixture list and the fact his ankle may have given way on the dodgy surface. At Hampden Smith won't have these concerns over his captain.

If we did ever have a left side to speak of then we don't have one now with Beasley, McCulloch and Adam on the casualty list. As important as this game is there is a bigger issue in my opinion. With the UEFA Cup game midweek and then legoland to follow Smith needs a workable solution on the left and really must try it out in this match. Who would play there is beyong me. We know it won't be Gow or Buffel who although it's not their natural position could play there if asked and probably provide a better option than we have available to us. And given that the options are limited it would be criminal of Smith to overlook them again. Given how much we have made this year in the cup runs I'm sure the pending payment for Buffel could be covered. I would rather see Gow there but knowing Smith it will probably be Novo, Smith or Burke played out there.

In goal we'll obviously have Alexander who will now need to get some games under his belt. In front of him with be Cuellar and Dailly with probably Stevie Smith on one side and either Whittaker or Broadfoot at the other. Up front we'll hopefully go with two. Boyd will surely start so hopefully Smith will start either Darche or Cousin alongside him and later try out a Darce/Cousin frontline. Maybe even try it from the start and bring Boyd on later.

Again although this is an important match I really feel we should be using it with a view to the next two matches. New personnel will come in and here is where they must show they can do a job.

Whatever happens I hope we go through to the final in 90 minutes and it leaves our fellow XT member Gers with a dilemma. ;)
 

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The aim has to be to win with the minimum of fuss and avoid further injuries. We need to give guys like Naismith a run-out in the team, because he could be very important in the coming weeks. The left side is a major problem as TEH said, and Naismith is probably one of the options Walter will consider there.

I think he'll rest Darcheville.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Burke should have have a big part to play. I didn't think it was right to play him at Firhill given the surface but he done OK. At Hampden on a bigger pitch and a smoother surface we need to use the width. There were rumours yesterday via the official site that Buffel may be included in the squad. That is the bit of intelligence we are missing a little at the moment so with Saints sitting in we could do with someone who can open up defences.

I'd expect Boyd to play but also expect Cousin to get some game time in as he needs it before Wednesday. Ultimately though we can hopefully win the match in 90 minutes.
 

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a real potential tripping rope for gers here, if they go with an under strength team, and end up losing - your season could really go pear-shaped. In the end - I think gers will scrape a 1-0 win.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Too true. If they play like they did away to St Mirren then they will cause us problems. They will get right in about Rangers but at Hampden Rangers are the ones who really should be dictating the game. As we've seen this year in the Scottish Cup, and FA Cup, the underdogs can still win out in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Today's team apparently:

Code:
                Alexander

Whittaker  Cueller     Dailly       Smith


Burke     Thomson   Hemdani    Naismith

                 Novo      Cousin

Subs
Smith
Broadfoot
Davis
Buffel
McMillan
A very attack minded sided if a little short in the middle of the park. Hopefully we won't get overrun there as I think St Johnstone will back it. A better looking side than I expected. There should be goals.
 

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We might have won, but i'm still really depressed about the day. Burke's injury looked a bad one and who knows how long Naismith will be out. That, and we're now labouring in every match.

The positives from the day are that we're the only Glasgow team in the cup final, and also the return of Thomas Buffel. Looks like Walter has finally reached the stage where he'll be forced to play Buffel because of injuries. The wee man could have scored a couple of goals today, but he showed a lot of nice touches and i'm glad to have him back. Nacho had some great moments and some atrocious moments, but both penalties were outstanding.

I fear the worst for Thursday, but we'll see what happens.
 

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The Burke one was just bad luck. The ball was gone and the guys momentum took him into Burke. Looked like a potential ankle-breaker, but i've not read if they know what the injury is yet.

I didn't really see Naismith's one, but from talking to people that was more deliberate. It was Martin Hardie involved I think, and he's a dirty big b******.
 

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good to win but we could really have done without another 30 minutes in the players legs as well as the injuries. we really looked to have running on empty at times.

just looking at it the pitch it looked good - no bare patches etc - but the surface was awful the ball just never rolled right in the middle and players from both teams were continously catching their studs. surface was too hard, lumpy and the grass too long, an absolute disgrace for the national stadium.

this isnt the first time the pitch has been shite compared to what it should be - time to get queens park playing at lesser hampden?

On the positives i thought Buffel looked fairly good. Couple of great passes to set up goal scoring chances and could maybe have had a penalty too. Done enough today to be in the squad for the rest of the season IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Just good to get to the final. It was evident I think that Saints were going to score and I thought they would score first. Luckily we replied quickly or we would have been in the shit.

I suppose we can't complain too much about the performance which was not good. The majority of the side haven't been playing at the top level regularly for one reason or another and it was basically like a new side so they would take time to gel.

Like TB I thought Buffel should some nice stuff considering how little football he has played. That payment is not a consideration now so hopefully Walter will bring him into the plans now because he definitely does offer an option we don't have elsewhere in the squad.

The injuries were a disappointing. Neither is a first team regular but given how the squad is depleting at the moment we need as many choices as possible. Burke's injury looks a bad one as he went over in much the same manner as McGregor. That was a complete accident. The Naismith one was a bad one too but I think he actually aggravated it himself and maybe should not have been allowed back on by the management. It's hard to say whether Hardie meant it. He certainly stamped on his leg but it looked like he was watching the ball all the way to me. Naimsith seemed to recover fine until he stretched for the ball a few minutes later.

At least we are through to a second cup final. The squad does look tired and I don't hold out too much hope for midweek now. As already said we do seem to be running on empty now.
 
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