John McGinn raises Hampden worry ahead of Celtic vs Rangers semi-final

By John McGinley

March 26, 2023

Scotland and Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn has criticised the condition of the Hampden pitch after playing a starring role in his country’s victory over Cyprus on Saturday.

McGinn was on the scoresheet, as he often is, in the 3-0 Euro 2024 qualifying victory. After the match, he suggested the playing surface was a factor in the lack of Scotland cohesion across the 90 minutes.

Referencing last month’s Scottish League Cup final between Celtic and Rangers, McGinn’s comments are a worry ahead of a semi-final double-header across the weekend of April 29th and 30th. The Bhoys will play their rivals on the Sunday, with the prospect of the pitch being significantly cut up by Falkirk and Inverness CT on the Saturday.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

John McGinn flags up ‘difficult’ Hampden pitch

McGinn said [Sunday Post, 26/03 print edition]: “If we have any excuse, it was the pitch. It was really tough to play on. I remember watching Celtic v Rangers a few weeks ago, and it looked the same.

“It was tough to play on for both teams – and it might not suit Spain. Hopefully, they water it before Tuesday. It was just tough underfoot and slippy. A lot of the players were falling about, even big Angus Gunn. It was difficult to play our stuff, but thankfully we clicked late on and got another two goals.”

It’s really not a good look for the Scottish FA to have one of their most popular and important players criticise their home surface in the wake of such an important game for the country.

The comments don’t bode well for our own match either. Having watched the Scotland game, and previous matches at Hampden this year, I can see McGinn’s point. The pitch looked both heavy and slippy, with bobbling apparent on occasion too.

The SFA really need to get to grips with the situation. I suppose we’ll see on Tuesday how well it holds up to matches in quick succession. When Celtic played before Rangers in the Scottish League Cup semi-final, it was notably worse on the Sunday – although work has gone into since then.

Celtic do their best work on a slick, consistent surface and it’d be an issue if we were going into such an important semi with significant concerns about the pitch.

In other news, Celtic announce ‘incredible’ demand for latest Adidas partnership.