Scouting Report: What to expect from Hearts as Celtic go for Quadruple Treble
We watch a lot of football, here on 67 Hail Hail. Although our focus is obviously on Celtic, we take in games from all around the leagues.
Ask us about Spanish football, if you like. Need some Scandinavian superstars to watch? No problem.
Occasionally, though, we might look for outside help when it comes to scouting opponents. With Hearts coming to Hampden to attempt to stop the Quadruple Treble on Sunday, we spoke to our pal Ben Banks at Not The Old Firm to get the low-down on our opponents.
Ben is a fantastic writer, and we’d definitely recommend you check out his work on our sister site.
Hearts: an overview
67HH: Obviously, Hearts are in a tier below, but what kind of season have they had so far?
Ben Banks: They’ve been doing alright, as expected. They have won most of their games apart from a wee blip at Dunfermline. On most occasions, whilst they’ve done enough, Hearts fans have maybe expected more. I think the general consensus is that Robbie Neilson’s a safe pair of hands, who’ll get them out of the Championship and solidify them in the Premiership.
They’re on fairly decent form. They won 6-1 at the weekend in their best result of the season, so they couldn’t be going into the Scottish Cup Final on any better form, I don’t think.
67HH: How does Robbie Neilson like to set his team up?
BB: It’s hard to tell, because setting up for Arbroath away at Gayfield is different from setting up for Celtic at Hampden. They usually rely a lot on Josh Ginnelly. He’s the man to look out for. He gives them a lot of pace going forward, a lot of drive. He’s definitely their most creative player.
And then they’ve obviously got the attacking options of the more experienced guys. Liam Boyce, Jamie Walker you could put in that category, Steven Naismith. But it’s hard to say. If you’re looking at a tactical perspective for Hearts, then you need to look to the semi-final against Hibs. They sat off them a wee bit more and looked to hit on the counter.
I’d expect Hearts to play much like St. Johnstone and Ross County in recent weeks. A low block, and look to hit on the counter. I don’t see Hearts coming out all guns blazing. Robbie Neilson will be aware that Celtic, man for man are better than Hearts. it’s just whether that Celtic turns up to do the business.
Key men against Celtic
67HH: You’ve mentioned Josh Ginnelly as a player to look out for. What about Christophe Berra? How’s he been this season?
BB: Aye, alright. It’s still a wee bit odd to say that Berra will be involved in a 2020 Scottish Cup Final. If he starts, Edouard v Berra will be one to look out for. It’s mainly been Mihai Popescu and Craig Halkett that have started at centre back, so I don’t know if Berra will start on Sunday. But having that kind of experience will be key in the dressing room.
67HH: What kind of impact has Craig Gordon had on Hearts this season?
BB: He’s been massive for them. If you like at the semi-final, he’s half the reason why Hearts are in the final. He made 4 or 5 really good saves.
Hearts have kept numerous clean sheets. They’re a lot more assured at the back than they were last season. Obviously, you need to take into account that they’re playing at a lower level this season, but Gordon’s been immense for them. He could definitely still do a job at Celtic, I think.
It’d be somewhat ironic if Craig Gordon is the reason Celtic don’t go on to get a quadruple-treble after playing such a big part in getting those trophies over the last few seasons.
67HH: Is there anyone who’s gone under the radar this season?
BB: Their key players have stepped up this season. As I mentioned, Josh Ginnelly is the one for me. Andy Irvine is another one; he’s been in and out of the team this season. Whether he starts remains to be seen.
Peter Haring’s another one if he starts. If he’s fully fit, he’ll be another big one in defence. If you’ve got a fit Peter Haring against Scott Brown, that would be interesting.
Hearts’ big hitters have been decent this season. It’s been a group effort; I wouldn’t say there have been stand-outs apart from the names I’ve mentioned.
Ben Banks’ prediction
BB: If Celtic turn up, they’ll win. They’re better man-for-man than Hearts, and their supporters are aware of that. It’s whether Celtic turn up or not.
If Hearts can stay in the game for the first half, get into half time 0-0 or get a goal early, it’ll be a very interesting final regardless of the division gap.