Besides the odd Champions League qualifier, it is rare to see competitive football at the end of July. Yet this is exactly what we are getting this weekend as the Scottish Premier League kicks off with a remarkably early start to the season when champions Rangers hosts Hearts at Ibrox on Saturday.
With the departure of Walter Smith, Rangers are not favourites to retain their SPL crown this year and they sit behind their arch-rivals Celtic in the outright market. Rangers hero Ally McCoist has taken over at the helm and opinion is still split as to whether he will be a success.
Rangers have won the last three league titles but many would argue that the side that won last year over-performed and were lucky that Celtic managed to falter so close to the end of the season. Smith was one of the most experienced managers in the game and could steer the team towards the title just a few months ago but McCoist has only been a number two the last few years and it will be a big step up for him into such a pressurised position.
The Craig Whyte takeover at Ibrox has prevented any players leaving or coming in so McCoist is stuck with the same bunch from last year. Standards were starting to drop with this group of players under Smith the last 12 months so McCoist, in his first ever season as a manager, will have his work cut out for him to try and push them forward.
Hearts haven’t had an ideal pre-season with reports of players not being paid but new manager Jim Jefferies insists his players will be ready and focussed for their trip to Ibrox. In their last pre-season game they beat Royal Antwerp 1-0 at Tynecastle.
Rangers are firm favourites for Saturday’s encounter but do not offer much value at 4/11, while a draw is 7/2 and an unlikely Hearts win is at 17/2. As both teams are still going to be feeling the effects of a shortened pre-season they might just be a little slow to get out of the blocks on Saturday and a halftime scoreline of 0-0 at 21/10 looks like a good bet with Unibet.com. As both teams are expected to be sluggish after a summer off and their form not as sharp, under 2.5 goals is worth a punt at 11/10 also.
In the end, Rangers should get the win as they are at home and will be desperate to get off to a winning start for McCoist. They will, however, do it the hard way so back Draw/Rangers in the halftime/fulltime market with Unibet at 31/10.
Tip #1: Back Halftime scoreline 0-0 at 21/10 with Unibet.com
Tip #2: Back Under 2.5 goals at 11/10 with Unibet.com
Tip #3: Back Draw/Rangers in Halftime/Fulltime market at 31/10 with Unibet.com
Odds supplied by Unibet, have a bet on the match and watch it live via Unibet.com.
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