WHEN Rangers beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie last month, it was one of the most interesting and eye-catching matches of the Premiership campaign. The fall-out from it was just as headline worthy.

Six goals, two red cards and two penalties didn’t tell the full story as Alfredo Morelos was hit with a three-game ban and Allan McGregor retrospectively suspended for two.

It emerged that Derek McInnes was upset about the celebrations inside the Rangers dressing room, while the pictures of Aberdeen’s Betfred Cup win over the Light Blues had served to motivate Steven Gerrard’s side even further.

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Now, the teams will do it all over again on Sunday. With a Scottish Cup semi-final spot at stake, this could be the best one yet.

“I think it might be something that is in their thinking, it is not in my thinking,” Gerrard said. “If you have been to Pittodrie as a player or a manager or you have been lucky enough to walk round the stadium, the dressing rooms are basically sitting right on top of each other.

“If you win a game there and you are happy and your players celebrate, which they deserve to do, I am sure they are going to hear it next door.

“I am sure that would be the case if it was the other way round. We played them at Ibrox and Hampden and the dressing rooms are miles apart, but I am sure Aberdeen were happy in both those dressing rooms and I am sure they were celebrating.

“It is just that the dressing rooms are far apart, we cant control where the dressing rooms are. But I am sure it will come up in their team talk and we have to be ready for that.”

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In truth, neither side should require any added motivation tomorrow as the teams, two great rivals, meet for the fifth time this season.

The animosity between Rangers and Aberdeen could take incomers to Scotland time to understand and become accustomed to.

Gerrard is well aware of the significance of it, though, as he plots a victory that could be hugely significant for his side this season.

“There is a lot at stake, it’s a big rivalry,” he said. “Both sets of players will be desperate for a result. Every game we’ve had against Aberdeen this season has been a physical encounter and I don’t think that will change. We hope we get officials who understand that. We want to focus on 90 minutes of football with all 22 players on the pitch.

“That’s when you get a good spectacle and that’s when you get a box office game to be involved in.

“It’s more of a rivalry than it looks on the outside but you get educated on these things as soon as you walk in the door. It was one of the conversations I had early doors and I was up to speed pretty quickly.

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“I’m used to big rivalries. I had them as a player and walking into this job I knew the one here with Celtic.”

In a potentially powderkeg environment, it will be crucial for Gerrard’s players to keep a cool head.

Morelos has been sent off in each of his three outings against the Dons this term and missed the Hampden encounter through suspension.

He will face a familiar adversary in Scott McKenna once again and Gerrard is relishing the battle.

“I think I’ll speak to everyone in general,” he said. “It’s important we play with discipline. I’ll never be someone who takes an edge away from a player because you can be taking a big chunk away from that player’s abilities. You hope the players go in and you can trust them to be physical and aggressive but to channel it in the right direction.

“I don’t want to see any of my players getting stupid yellow cards or leaving the pitch because the job becomes much more difficult.

“But I thought the battle between Alfredo and Scott McKenna was box office for the 60-65 minutes it was going on. It was an absolute spectacle to see from the side and it was shame that both players couldn’t see the game out.

“Because this is the reason why we all love football – battles, individual battles on the pitch and team rivalries. I hope it is no different at the weekend.

“I hope Alfredo and Scott go toe-to-toe again and it’s another great spectacle. I just hope they both see the 90 minutes out because I don’t like seeing players from either team being sent off.”

That win at Pittodrie last month saw Rangers clinch a fourth successive victory as they recovered from the shock defeat at Kilmarnock after the international break.

It was followed by a cup draw at Rugby Park and a costly Premiership stalemate with St Johnstone at Ibrox, however, as momentum was quickly lost once again.

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Now, having overcome Kilmarnock, Hamilton and Dundee with relative ease, Rangers can’t afford to slip-up with their silverware ambitions on the line tomorrow.

“That’s what has set us back at times during the season,” he said. “I said a few weeks ago that it feels like we take three, four, five steps forward then take a huge bump or setback.

“For us to get better and grow, we need to go on longer runs of being consistent. I think the players are starting to understand that, in terms of their mentality and approach.

“They realise every game is a different challenge and you have to show every opposition the same level of respect.

“That will certainly be the case on Sunday. If they want go to four on the spin, they will have to adapt their thinking and mentality to know this is not going to be an easy game.”