Celtic’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Hibs could well be decided by a battle in the middle of the park between two players that know each other very well.
Those players are Hoops skipper Scott Brown, and Hibs midfielder Scott Allan. The duo had a spell together at Celtic, where Allan failed to hold down a regular first-team place.
He is now back at Hibs, where ironically he played some of his best football under Neil Lennon. Brown and Allan had a combative battle when Hibs and Celtic met at Easter Road in September. The game ended 1-1. However, it could be argued that Allan just came out in top in the battle between the players.
Can play far better than he did in last contest
Brown wasn’t at his best that day, he can play much better for the Hoops. That is what he will be hoping to do at Hampden Park.
Allan’s performance in the middle of the park allowed Hibs to gain a foothold in the game, which they didn’t really relinquish until the last 20 minutes when Celtic started to dominate. However, he looked dangerous every time he ran with the ball in the middle of the park.
Winning battle will go a long way towards semi-final win
Brown must stop that from happening at Hampden Park. Should he win the battle with Allan, it would go a long way towards Celtic reaching the Betfred Cup Final.
We know that Brown can play better than in his last performance against Hibs, but can Allan play better against Celtic? Even though he played well in the draw, it wasn’t enough to get Hibs the win. Celtic can take some encouragement from that.
Celtic will be favourites for the game, but that will count for nothing unless the team performs on the day. That includes winning the midfield battle. Brown will have a key role to play for the Hoops, perhaps even more than usual.