Rangers may ultimately concede this season’s Premiership title to Celtic. The famous two-horse race at the summit of Scotland’s top flight is all too familiar. After slipping to a Scottish League Cup Final loss to the Hoops as well, it may be another season of playing second-fiddle to their great rivals.
There is still another clash with Celtic to come in the league. But will a positive outcome for the Gers in that one, change the projected title going to Parkhead this season? Maybe not, and bookmakers thoroughly selected by analytical services in different countries, like Match.Center in Ireland, wouldn’t be in panic mode to shift the odds on a Celtic title much.
But perhaps it does give the chance to look past the Old Firm clashes for the season. Rangers will end their campaign with a trip to Aberdeen. Thinking about that, allows a bit of indulgence in going back to December last year.
Rangers vs Aberdeen
There’s something massively enjoyable about Rangers running into the Dons. The first time the two clubs met was in 1905. Memories from the 70s, 80s and early 90s come back into mind, like the 1979 League Cup Final.
Rangers won it, but it was a time when Aberdeen had closed the gap on the Glasgow club. The following season in fact, under Alex Ferguson, the Dons won the Scottish Premier Division title.
There was the ill-tempered clash at Ibrox in 1985 with a flurry of reds cards and a pitch invasion, which pushed even memories of the on-pitch health concerns over John McMaster in 1980 into the background, which in turn was swept aside by the ‘blood and blunder’ meeting of 1988 with Neil Simpson’s infamous tackle on Ian Durrant.
Fierce Rivalry Remains
Things have calmed down, fortunately, but there is still a healthy, fierce rivalry between the two clubs. It leads to some cracking atmospheres and drama-laden affairs that whet the whistle of fans.
There are many ways to win a football match of course. But sometimes a stroll in the park, coasting to something like a 3-0 win, doesn’t provide the spectator with the greatest show. But late goal drama in a match, that’s a different story.
In December 2022, in only Michael Beale’s second game in charge, Rangers went to Pittodrie. Beale had won his first game 3-2 against Hibernian, having spurred his men on to victory from a 2-1 deficit.
With Rangers 2-1 down again, this time at Pittodrie, they once again had to dig themselves out of trouble. But as the game wore on, it looked more and more unlikely that they would. Aberdeen looked set to snap a 12-match winless streak against Rangers.
The Dons looked as if they were going to hold firm. But a goalkeeping error and then a defensive error saw Arfield pounce twice for a stunning turnaround out of nowhere. There are ways to win matches, and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, in a big rivalry match, is arguably the sweetest of them all.
In-Play Betting Spoils
Matches like that highlight in-play betting. Think about the scenarios that would have played out. In that match, Rangers fell behind 2-1 within 10 minutes after the half-time break. That would have been prime time for backing the Gers to turn the match around.
Having been the pre-match favourites, the in-play odds on the Rangers win would have dwarfed the pre-match price. Granted, even a punter jumping on the odds for a Rangers turnaround in-play would have been sweating at 90 minutes.
But in this scenario, Aberdeen gifted Rangers the three points in the end, allowing bold punters to cash in.
The Waiting Game
It also highlights a popular in-play betting strategy, particularly when strong teams are trailing. These are golden opportunities to jump on with live betting. Around 30 minutes left in a match is often a terrific time to back a pre-match favourite to overturn a 1-goal deficit.
The more nerve the bettor could manage to hold on to, the bigger the increase in odds. 20 minutes left with Rangers trailing, the bigger the odds lifted. 10 minutes to go, the price became eye-opening.
The Not-Waiting Game
On the reverse of this, punters can also watch for those moments when not waiting is going to pay off. Aberdeen opened the scoring early in that December fixture. But when Rangers equalised for the first time, that was the moment to have backed Aberdeen to win in-play. With a caveat.
They were underdogs and having a finger on the pulse of a Cash Out option, settling the bet early around the 55th minute when the Dons went back in front, would have been the play.
While these are mentions of betting strategy in hindsight, there are moments to watch out for in future matches. Betting pre-match on Rangers and then going in-play on Aberdeen when they had taken the lead, would have hedged your options as another example of a strategy.
There are ways and means of finding value in football betting. Those high-drama games, those nail biters and dramatic Arfield-esque moments at Pittodrie are the ones that bring some of the biggest joys for punters. While the outcome of the season may not see Rangers collecting a league title, there’s still plenty of drama left if you look in the right places.