IT would be pushing it just a touch to describe the Betfred Cup final between Celtic and Rangers this Sunday as the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.

As well as the Parkhead and Ibrox clubs have acquitted themselves domestically and in Europe this season, they have both, at times, shown that they are far from fallible.

Neil Lennon’s side leaked four goals at home to Cluj back in August to crash out of the Champions League in the third qualifying round. They also lost 2-0 to Livingston in the Ladbrokes Premiership, albeit on the artificial pitch at the Tony Macaroni Arena after being reduced to 10 men, in October.

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Steven Gerrard’s team, meanwhile, were well beaten by their city rivals in Govan in the opening Glasgow derby of the 2019/20 campaign at the start of September. In the Europa League, too, they have, despite being top of Group G after five games and in with a great chance of reaching the knockout rounds, occasionally looked suspect.

Yet, there is rightly a huge sense of great anticipation throughout Scottish football ahead of the showdown at Hampden this weekend due to the exceptional form both of the participants have been enjoying in recent months.

Not since the League Cup decider in 2011, which Rangers edged 2-1 courtesy of a Nikica Jelavic goal in extra-time, have the two age-old adversaries been so evenly matched going into a final. Only a solitary goal separates them at the top of the league table after 14 outings. It is just too close to call.

Both teams have, in Odsonne Edouard and Alfredo Morelos, lethal strikers who will surely depart for multi-million pound transfer fees in the summer. They also have, in James Forrest and Ryan Kent, exciting wingers who are capable of creating and converting chances.

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Elsewhere, Scott Brown and Callum McGregor and Steven Davis and Ryan Jack are outstanding and vastly-experienced central midfielders who are capable of dictating play and dominating games and who won’t be fazed by the hostile atmosphere the sell-out crowd generates.

In goals, Fraser Forster and Allan McGregor, as was witnessed for the umpteenth time this season against Rennes and Feyenoord respectively last Thursday evening, can produce world-class saves.

At the back, Connor Goldson and Filip Helander have formed a decent central defensive partnership for Rangers since the latter arrived in the summer. The same is true of Kristoffer Ajer and Christopher Jullien over at Celtic.

The goals against column at both clubs is impressive. The Ibrox club have shipped just eight in 17 outings in the Betfred Cup and Premiership combined. The Parkhead outfit, meanwhile, have only picked the ball out the back of the net on 11 occasions in those same competitions.

But both Edouard, if he is available, and Morelos will certainly fancy their chances come kick-off at Hampden.

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Rangers have conceded criminal goals to Celtic and Young Boys this term as a result of unforced errors with their centre half Goldson and right back and captain James Tavernier culpable respectively.

Tavernier’s effectiveness going forward is not in question. His deliveries into opposition boxes are a potent weapon for his side. But he has always been prone to costly lapses in concentration. Gerrard admitted last week his skipper has suffered from a dip in form.

In fairness to Rangers, they atoned for losing to Young Boys in a game they really should have drawn, possibly even won, by drawing 1-1 with Porto in Portugal in their very next European match. There was precious little they could have done about Luis Diaz’s long-range strike that night. So they can, on their day, be dependable.

But they once again needed McGregor to keep them in the match in the De Kuip last week as Dick Advocaat’s men ran riot during the first-half. One of his blocks, from a Steven Berghuis effort, was remarkable.

Celtic have often not been a great deal better. Forster bailed them out in their win over Lazio at Parkhead on more than one occasion and had Simone Inzaghi raving about his display. That was, admittedly, against a fairly formidable front line. But Ross County striker Ross Stewart experienced little resistance getting on the end of a Josh Mullin free-kick and netting in Dingwall yesterday.

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Much will depend on how Greg Taylor, who has only made a handful of appearances for Celtic, and his teenage team mate Jeremie Frimpong fare in the full-back berths. That duo should, despite Jonny Hayes being in contention for a place and Boli Bolingoli having an outside chance of featuring, get the nod.

The team whose backline performs better will win the Betfred Cup final, lift the first trophy of the season and land an important psychological blow in the race for the Premiership.