MX23RW : Friday, August 6 03:33:17| >> :120:25010:25010:
Dec 20, 2020 at 2.15pm UK at Hampden Park
CelticCeltic
3-3
HeartsHearts
Christie (19'), Edouard (29' pen.), Griffiths (105+1')
Elyounoussi (71'), Ajer (91'), McGregor (107'), Jullien (116')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Boyce (48'), Kingsley (67'), Ginnelly (111')
Gordon (29'), Halliday (33'), Walker (51'), Naismith (62'), Wighton (88'), Smith (105')
Celtic win 4-3 on penalties

Preview: Celtic vs. Hearts - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Scottish Cup clash between Celtic and Hearts, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Celtic have the chance to win a fourth successive domestic treble when they face Hearts at Hampden Park on Sunday in the delayed Scottish Cup final.

Victory will also go some way towards easing the pressure on Bhoys boss Neil Lennon, who has found his position questioned after his side's faltering form in recent weeks has triggered protests from supporters.


Match preview

Celtic manager Neil Lennon pictured on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Celtic will have the chance to escape from their current woes on Sunday when they take on Championship side Hearts at Hampden Park.

The final is a repeat of the 2019 edition when the Celts beat the Edinburgh outfit 2-1, and it is an important game for the Hoops, who now cannot complete a fifth successive domestic treble after being eliminated from the League Cup in the second round of that competition.

The Hoops have drawn five and lost seven games in all competitions this season, form that has seen them slip 13 points behind Rangers in the league table, and also exit the Europa League at the group stages.

Fans have protested angrily outside Celtic Park, and the club's board has had to reassert its support for the beleaguered manager.

Six losses and four draws in the last 14 games is not the kind of form that is tolerated for long at Celtic Park, but Lennon has reacted to the pressure in typically bullish style by stating that he believes he is the man to turn things round.

Back-to-back wins over Lille in the Europa League and Kilmarnock in the league in the last two games have hinted that the Hoops might have turned the corner.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson pictured on October 31, 2020© Reuters

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson knows that his team are heavy underdogs going into Sunday's final, but he knows what it takes to win a Scottish Cup final from his playing days.

Back in 2006, Neilson was part of the Jambos side that beat Gretna at Hampden Park, and he achieved the feat alongside two of the senior lynchpins of his current squad.

Defender Christoph Berra and goalkeeper Craig Gordon both played for Hearts that day and the duo will have a major role to play on Sunday if Hearts are serious about causing a shock.

There is plenty of experience in Neilson's squad that will mean his team are unlikely to be overawed by the occasion in Glasgow at the weekend.

Scotland international Steven Naismith will captain the team, which should also include Northern Ireland internationals Liam Boyce and Michael Smith.

Those players possess the kind of experience that will help younger players keep their heads, although the lack of any spectators at Hampden will surely mean that the whole day is much less intense than usual.

Extra motivation for Hearts is sure to be provided by the recent death of former club favourite Marius Zaliukas, who tragically passed away on the same day that the Jambos beat Hibernian in the semi-final.

The Hearts players will all wear the number 26 on their shorts on Sunday in tribute to Zaliukas, who was the skipper when the club last won the Scottish Cup in 2012.

Should Neilson's men pull off a major shock and win the cup then it would be the perfect tribute to the late Lithuanian.

Celtic Scottish Cup form: WWWWWW
Celtic form (all competitions): LLLDWW

Hearts Scottish Cup form: WLWWWW
Hearts form (all competitions): WLWLWW


Team News

Celtic's Greg Taylor celebrates scoring against KR Reykjavik with Scott Brown and Ryan Christie in the Champions League on August 18, 2020© Reuters

Neil Lennon has a few issues to mull over when it comes to picking his Hoops team for Sunday's game, not least when it comes to choosing his goalkeeper.

Northern Irishman Conor Hazard has claimed the spot between the sticks for the Bhoys recently, and Lennon may opt for him over previous incumbent Scott Bain.

Lennon also has a big decision to make in midfield, with stalwart club icon Scott Brown not enjoying his greatest run of form during the Celts' recent slump.

Ismaila Soro has looked good in recent games and Lennon has the option of turning to him as a replacement for the former Scotland captain.

Lennon also needs to consider whether David Turnbull or Ryan Christie should be his main creator in attack, or indeed whether both can play.

The Celts' only injury absentee is winger James Forrest, whose return to action after ankle surgery looks like extending until at least the end of January now.

For Hearts, who sit on top of the Scottish Championship, centre-back John Souttar is a long-term absentee, so veteran Christophe Berra will line up alongside Craig Halkett in the middle of the back four.

Jambos midfielder Loic Damour is out with a foot injury that has seen him sidelined since August.

Celtic possible starting lineup:
Hazard; Ajer, Jullien, Duffy; Frimpong, Soro, McGregor, Taylor; Turnbull, Christie; Edouard

Hearts possible starting lineup:
Gordon; Smith, Halkett, Berra, Kingsley; Haring, Lee; Walker, Naismith, Halliday; Boyce


SM words green background

We say: Celtic 2-1 Hearts

Our prediction for this game is that Celtic will secure the quadruple treble with a 2-1 win over Hearts, but it is likely to be a tough and tight game.

It would not be a surprise if extra time was needed to settle things, with the Jambos sure to be fired up, not least as they look to pay tribute to the late Marius Zaliukas.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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Celtic manager Neil Lennon pictured on November 5, 2020
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina34241674
United StatesUnited States29352791
JapanJapan22101446
AustraliaAustralia1751941
Olympics flagRussian Olympic Committee16222058
Great BritainGreat Britain16181852
Today's Olympic highlights header

Friday's key events


HOCKEY
· Great Britain's women aim to secure their place on the podium as they face India in the bronze medal match (2.30am)
· Netherlands - silver medallists five years ago - and Argentina battle for the gold medal in the women's final (11am)

BEACH VOLLEYBALL
· The women's gold medal will be decided as Australia and USA go head to head (3.30am)

BOXING
· Lauren Price will be looking to add to Team GB's success in the ring when she takes on Nouchka Fontijn of Netherlands in the women's middleweight semi-final (6am)

DIVING
· Tom Daley already has one Olympic gold to his name in Tokyo, and he begins his bid for second in the men's 10m platform. Teammate Noah Williams is also involved in the preliminary round (7am)

CYCLING
· Jason Kenny's reign as sprint king may be over, but Jack Carlin looked strong in his bid to succeed his compatriot. He takes on Harrie Lavreysen in his sprint semi-final (8.10am), with the final taking place later in the day (10.35am)
· The women's madison makes its Olympic debut at the velodrome as Team GB duo Katie Archibald and Laura Kenny look to add another medal to their collections (9.15am)

FOOTBALL
· Hosts Japan will look to get themselves on the podium as they face Mexico in the men's bronze medal match (10am)
· The women's champions will be crowned as both Sweden and Canada aim to win Olympic gold for the very first time (1pm)

ATHLETICS
· The men's 5000m final includes Great Britain's Andrew Butchart, but most eyes will be on Ugandan world record holder Joshua Cheptegei (1pm)
· Team GB's Jodie Williams will hope to get on the podium in the women's 400m final, but defending champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo is favourite for gold while Stephenie Ann McPherson should challenge and Allyson Felix is bidding to become the most decorated female track and field athlete of all time (1.35pm)
· Netherlands' Sifan Hassan takes on leg two of her ambitious attempt at a Tokyo treble in a women's 1500m final which also includes Great Britain's Laura Muir and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya (1.50pm)
· A star-studded women's 4x100m relay final will see a Team GB quartet including Dina Asher-Smith look to upset defending champions USA and favourites Jamaica, who boast Elaine Thompson-Herah as she goes for her third gold of the Games (2.30pm)
· Great Britain and Jamaica will also be going for gold in the men's 4x100m relay final, and their medal hopes have been boosted by USA's failure to qualify (2.50pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1RangersRangers11003033
2Aberdeen11002023
3Hibernian11003213
4Hearts11002113
5Dundee10102201
6St Mirren10102201
7Ross County10100001
8St Johnstone10100001
9Motherwell100123-10
10Celtic100112-10
11Dundee UnitedDundee Utd100102-20
12Livingston100103-30

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