Hibernian welcome Celtic to Leith on Sunday for what should be an interesting Scottish Premiership clash. Neil Lennon’s Hibs got back to winning ways last weekend against Hamilton Academical, with a 1-0 away win. That victory was much needed, coming as it did on the back of seven games in all competitions without a win.
Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic team managed to qualify for the knockout phase of the Europa League on Thursday night, despite suffering a 2-1 home defeat to Red Bull Salzburg. That was the Hoops’ third defeat of the Europa League group stage, but their domestic form has been much stronger than their performance in Europe. The Celts have lost just twice in the Scottish Premiership this season, and their drive towards the league title looks to be picking up some momentum. It could be a tough afternoon for Hibs on Sunday.
Hibernian vs Celtic Prediction: Hibs 0-2 Celtic
This game looks like being a victory for Celtic, given the poor form displayed by Hibs over the last couple of months. Complacency for Celtic fans would be a mistake, though. Neil Lennon would certainly love for his side to beat the club where he spent so much of his playing and management career, and he will have his players fired up. If Celtic can weather an early storm, though, they should have the quality to find at least two goals, and head back to Glasgow’s East End with another valuable three points secured.
Our recommended tip: Celtic 3-0
Our recommended bet for this game comes from Paddy Power. The Irish bookie is offering really tempting odds of 9/1 on Celtic to win the game 3-0. While not many teams go to Easter Road and win by that kind of scoreline, Celtic are probably the only team in the Premiership who have the quality and experience to do so. If they can score an early first goal, the Hoops might well take full control of the game and suffocate the Hibs resistance. If they do, scoring three goals becomes more likely.
These two sides have met on one previous occasion this season, back on October 20 at Celtic Park. The home side emerged triumphant from a game of two halves, winning 4-2. Tom Rogic and Olivier Ntcham had put the Celts into a 2-0 lead by half-time, and the Hoops also hit the post three times before the interval. The second half was an exciting affair, in which Hibs fought back. Florian Kamberi and Martin Boyle scored for the Leith men, but Odsonne Edouard netted twice for Celtic to seal the three points for the Glaswegians.
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Players to watch: Stevie Mallan & Callum McGregor
Hibs midfielder Stevie Mallan has managed to net four goals and provide four assists this season, since returning to Scottish football after a spell with Barnsley in England. A energetic and vibrant presence in the Hibs midfield, Mallan has sometimes been compared to John McGinn, the man he replaced at Easter Road. Hibs will need him to be on his game and in form on Sunday, as he is the kind of player who can produce a game-breaking moment of magic.
Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor has been playing in a deeper role this season, playing a more box-to-box type role in the side, rather than as an attacking midfielder. The positional change seems to have helped him to move to another level, and his passing and ability to control a game have improved massively over the last few months. Scotland have also benefitted from his growing maturity. Him against Mallan will be an interesting battle.