Neil Lennon’s Celtic have the opportunity to secure a third successive domestic trophy treble when they face Heart of Midlothian at Hampden Park on Saturday afternoon. The Celts are one of just eight clubs in the world to have won more than one domestic treble, with the Glasgow giants having won six, one fewer than rivals Rangers. Victory in the cup final could also boost Lennon’s chances of keeping his place in the Celtic manager’s job next season.
But the game is not just about the Celts, of course. If Craig Levein’s Jambos manage to win the Scottish Cup it will be a fine end to a season which promised so much early on but delivered just sixth place in the Scottish Premiership. If Hearts win they will make it into the Europa League qualifying round, at the expense of Aberdeen, who finished fourth in the Premiership.
Heart of Midlothian vs Celtic Prediction: Hearts 1-3 Celts
Our prediction for this game is that Celtic will win in pretty convincing fashion, with the final score being 3-1 in favour of Lennon’s team. Celtic beat Hearts last weekend in the final game of the league season, winning 2-1 at Celtic Park, and we think that the events will transpire in a pretty similar way at Hampden on Saturday. Hearts will have enough about them to breach the Celtic defence once, but, in the end, the Hoops’ quality will to win will take them to a third successive treble.
Our recommended tip: Celtic, both score
Our featured tip for this game comes courtesy of Ladbrokes, who are offering odds of 11/4 on Celtic to win and both teams to score. Hearts have little chance of victory in our view, but they have managed to score against Celtic in defeat earlier this season, and have beaten the Celts once in 2018/19. Hearts haven’t won in five games in all competitions, though, with that run including four defeats and a draw. Their last win came in the Scottish Cup semi-final clash with Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Heading into a final on the back of that kind of form does not bode well for the Jambos.
These sides first met this season in August, when Hearts won 1-0 in the league at Tynecastle.In October, Celtic won 3-0 in the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup at Murrayfield. In November, the teams played each other in the league at Celtic Park, with the home side sweeping Hearts aside 5-0. The teams also met at Tynecastle in the league in February, with Celtic winning 2-1.
The most recent meeting between the teams was just last weekend, at Celtic Park. The Celts brought the curtain down on their Scottish Premiership season with a 2-1 win over the Jambos. Mikey Johnston scored two goals for the Hoops, with Jake Mulraney scoring for the Jambos.
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Players to watch: John Souttar & Tom Rogic
Injury has ravaged Craig Levein’s options in attack, so the focus is bound to be on how the Hearts’ defence performs. Scotland international John Souttar will be partnering Christophe Berra at the heart of the Jambos back four, and he will need to play extremely well if Hearts are to win the game. He did score one of Hearts’ three goals in their semi-final win over Inverness, so can offer some threat in the air at set-pieces too.
Australian playmaker Tom Rogic tends to enjoy playing in the big occasions at Hampden Park. He scored crucial goals in the final against Aberdeen in 2017 and in the semi-final against Rangers in 2018. He has three goals and six assists to his name in 21 games in all competitions in 2019, so will be looking to boost his contribution on Saturday. If things are tight, Rogic can often open up the game with a moment of magic.