Hampden Stadium is the venue for Celtic vs Hibernian this Saturday in one of our biggest games of the season.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men ended our 100% record this season with a controversial 1-1 draw at Easter Road at the end of September. However, that would only prove to be a glimmer of hope in a run of 10 Premiership games without a win for the Leith side.
Celtic also come into this one flying high at both the top of the Premiership and at the top of their Europa League group. History is also on the Hoops’ side as it generally is in domestic football. Celtic last knocked Hibs out at the same stage of the same competition just two years ago. Hibs have to go back to 2003 for the last time they knocked us out of anything.
But Neil Lennon will know not to take any chances. Our poor record at Easter Road in recent years shows we can’t afford to leave any of our best XI out. So, taking all of that into account, here’s our prediction for Saturday’s starting XI:
Hibernian are one of four Premiership teams to have netted against Fraser Forster this season. He’ll be keen to put that right on Saturday and bag his seventh clean sheet for the club since returning.
Neil Lennon may have a real right-back dilemma on his hands. With Jeremie Frimpong’s emergence giving Lenny a huge decision to make, we’re going to say he sticks with Hatem Abd Elhamed as the Israeli continues to play in every single big game for the club.
Greg Taylor is cup-tied meanwhile, although someone better tell the Celtic TV interviewer. That means a return for Boli Bolingoli this weekend as he looks to build his own growing reputation.
Alongside the duo will be Kristoffer Ajer and Christopher Jullien. Jullien should’ve had a hat-trick against St Mirren, but it appears he saw the funny side post-match. Hopefully, if he gets those same opportunities this weekend then he buries them.
Scott Brown had been struggling with a knock after the 2-0 win over St Mirren. He’ll hopefully be ready to go, however, and will operate in the midfield alongside mainstay Callum McGregor.
James Forrest celebrated his new contract with Celtic’s second goal against Saints on Wednesday night. A cup semi-final strike at Hampden, however, would be even more cause for celebration.
Ryan Christie is back and put in a solid enough shift against St Mirren. He’s Celtic’s first-choice in the number 10 position. But with Tom Rogic back, Neil Lennon has the option of mixing things up from here on in. For Saturday, we’ll go with Ryan to start.
Is there a more in-form player at Celtic than Mohamed Elyounoussi at the moment? The winger scored his FIFTH goal for the club already against Saints. That strike added to his goals against Aberdeen and Ross County over the past couple of weeks alone. He’ll fancy nabbing number six against Heckingbottom’s sorry Hibees.
Up top, Celtic are in real danger. Vakoun Issouf Bayo may need to have surgery (Celtic Twitter), whilst question marks still hover over Leigh Griffiths’ condition. If Edouard picks up a knock, Celtic don’t have a natural replacement. Likewise if they wish to sub him off for a rest.
The Hoops need to be wary with French Eddy, and they certainly need Griff back as soon as possible. But this is the easiest decision of the lot – Edouard will start as he looks to continue his reputation as a big-game player.
As always, here’s the team in list form: