Heart of Midlothian v Celtic

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Scottish Cup final: Heart of Midlothian v Celtic
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday, 25 May Time: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland; text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

It has taken 140 games for Celtic to get to the brink of a treble treble. Now they are just 90 minutes on Saturday from completing an unprecedented feat.

The Parkhead club have won every domestic Scottish honour available for the past three seasons. Securing a ninth successive piece of silverware in the Scottish Cup final would clinch the sixth treble in Celtic’s history and their most special of all.

Neil Lennon’s team have yet to concede in the competition this season – and have won all four ties by at least two goals – but face a Hearts side who are not heading to Hampden to make up the numbers.

A season that promised so much for the Tynecastle men – they topped the Scottish Premiership for the first three months – has petered out to a sixth-place finish with cup glory a golden chance of salvation.

Injuries to key players have severely hampered Hearts throughout the campaign, but they are one of only four teams to inflict a domestic defeat on Celtic this term, beating them 1-0 at Tynecastle in August.

They are looking to summon the spirit of 2012 – when they demolished Hibernian 5-1 in the final – as they return to the scene of that memorable triumph bidding to lift the trophy for the ninth time.

How they got to Hampden

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Previous final meetings

Hearts hold the upper hand in previous Scottish Cup finals between the pair, but it is more than 60 years since the sides last went head to head for the trophy.

On that occasion, in 1956, a crowd of nearly 133,000 gathered at Hampden to see Hearts prevail 3-1. Before that, the Tynecastle men won 4-3 in 1901, before Celtic ran out 3-0 winners six years later.

Of their recent meetings in earlier rounds, Celtic hammered the hosts 4-0 to reach the last 16 in 2014 after a 7-0 win at the same stage a year later. But a last-minute goal from former Celtic striker Craig Beattie gave Hearts a 2-1 win in the 2012 semi-final.

Current form

  • Hearts have gone five games without a win, losing three in a row
  • Celtic have lost once in 14 games – away to Rangers – since being knocked out the Europa League by Valencia
  • Hearts have lost four times to Celtic since a 1-0 win at Tynecastle in August
  • Celtic beat Hearts 3-0 in their last Hampden meeting, in October’s League Cup semi-final

What the managers say

Hearts manager Craig Levein: “We are going for the single single. It is just as important to us.

“We have recent history of beating Celtic and I feel that the preparation for the game, particularly the last two or three weeks, has gone extremely well, especially getting players back fit, makes me feel better.

“The proof will be in the pudding of course, but we can beat Celtic, we have proven that we have got a big occasion in us, I am certain of that.”

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “Hearts are a very difficult obstacle for us to overcome, so there’s no point me sitting here telling you how I’m going to feel when we win the cup.

“I’m just wary of everyone talking about treble trebles and bus parades. We’ve got to play the game and not the occasion. That’s the message we’ll be hammering into the players.

“We have a very motivated Hearts team and for some of their players it will be their first cup final. They may never get the opportunity to win it again, so they will be very hungry too.”

Celtic rhythm versus Hearts physicality – analysis

Former Scotland striker Billy Dodds

Celtic have not been playing well of late but still getting results. I wouldn’t say Hearts are heavy underdogs.

Hearts have caused them problems over the last couple of seasons and had a couple of good results against them.

I think Celtic will take care of Hearts, but if Hearts have a good day, they are well capable of giving Celtic problems.

Former Ross County and Plymouth Argyle manager Derek Adams

I think Craig Levein has to go for it. I think he has to start with possibly two up front with maybe three at the back and go for the jugular early in the game.

I don’t think he’ll have a better opportunity in a cup final to beat Celtic. Celtic’s backline is not the strongest and Hearts’ best chance is to get physical.

Former Celtic defender Darren O’Dea

I have played against both teams this season and they are probably the polar opposites.

Hearts are probably the most physical team I’ve played against in my career. I think they will go out to try to disrupt Celtic and there will be so many fouls in the game.

It is a case of whose style is going to take over. If Celtic get into a rhythm, they’ll break them down and will win the game comfortably.

But, if Hearts disrupt their rhythm, they’re physically so demanding that they’ll cause any team problems. Uche Ikpeazu is a monster of a boy – probably the strongest I’ve played against.

Team news

Levein is confident striker Uche Ikpeazu and midfielders Peter Haring and Arnaud Djoum will all be fit having missed the 2-1 defeat at Celtic Park on Sunday. But Callumn Morrison, Aidan Keena, Ben Garuccio, Demetri Mitchell, Steven Naismith and Olly Lee are all out with knee injuries.

My Hearts XI

Hearts can lift the Scottish Cup for the ninth time and derail Celtic’s treble treble bid on Saturday, but how should Craig Levein set up his side?

Heart of Midlothian v Celtic 1

Celtic winger James Forrest and left-back Kieran Tierney are available after being rested for the last couple of games. Captain Scott Brown should also return to midfield following a foot injury, while on-loan West Bromwich Albion winger Oliver Burke is hopeful he will take some part despite a knee problem. But Ryan Christie,Jack Hendry, Vakoun Bayo, Dedryck Boyata,Craig Gordon, Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani are still out and Leigh Griffiths remains unavailable.

My Celtic XI

Celtic can seal a treble treble with victory over Hearts in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final, but whom should Neil Lennon select, and in what shape?

Heart of Midlothian v Celtic 2

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