Hearts aim to foil Celtic treble
The Hearts take on Premiership champions Celtic in Saturday’s Scottish FA Cup final and are hoping to foil a historic domestic treble for the Glasgow giants.
The Edinburgh side goes into the game as big underdogs according to sports betting companies, but manager Craig Levein has said that his team is confident of upsetting the odds and preventing Celtic from winning what would be a remarkable treble-treble.
Celtic has won eight out of eight available Scottish trophies in the last three seasons, and having wrapped up their Premiership title with games to spare, Neil Lennon’s side has been able to focus on achieving a ninth consecutive piece of silverware.
However, Levein says that he believes his Hearts players can stop the Premiership champions and have the opportunity to become heroes this weekend.
"We've got a big occasion in us, I'm certain of that. I'm not thinking about Celtic getting their treble, I'm thinking about our players becoming heroes and legends," he said.
One development in the Hearts’ favour is the return of some of their key players from injuries. Peter Haring has been out of action with a groin injury since last month’s semi-final but has declared himself fit this week, while midfielders Arnaud Djoum and Harry Cochrane, along with Uche Ikpeazu, are all likely to be available, having been serious injury doubts until recently.
The Hearts will also take comfort from the fact that they have beaten Celtic this season. Although they have lost four times to the men in green and white, including a 3-0 defeat in the League Cup semi-final, they beat Celtic 1-0 in their second league game of the campaign, a result that Levein says gives him hope that they can prevail in Saturday’s showpiece.
Claiming the Scottish FA Cup would also provide an uplifting conclusion to a season that had promised so much but ultimately led to disappointment. The Hearts started the campaign strongly and topped the Premiership table until the middle of October. However, they ran out of gas as the season progressed, and a return of just one point from their last seven league games was enough to see them drop down the table, finishing sixth and missing out on the European competition.
Meanwhile, Celtic has weathered a slow start to the campaign, and the loss of manager Brendan Rodgers, who joined English club Leicester City in February, to once again assert their dominance of Scottish football, finishing nine points clear of the Rangers in the Premiership.
Words: Devon McNeill