Celtic, despite a resurgence in Premiership of late, continued their dismal European run on Thursday night and suffered a 2-0 defeat to RB Leipzig in their crucial Europa League group tie. They now have yet another tricky contest on Sunday afternoon against Hearts, the current Premiership leaders who will clash heads with the defending champions at Murrayfield Stadium in the Scottish League Cup semi-final fixture.

The West Edinburgh outfit have already beaten the Hoops once this season at Tynecastle and their blistering form should make manager Brendan Rodgers anxious amid injuries and suspension. The Parkhead chief has conquered a double treble in his two-year realm but might undergo a severe threat to his team’s title aspirations this season.

Team News

Celtic

Celtic have significant absentees for their Sunday encounter through injury woes and the suspension of defensive ace Dedryck Boyata. Cristian Gamboa and Jozo Simunovic suffered a fresh injury at Leipzig whereas the fitness of Leigh Griffiths, Tom Rogic and Youssouf Mulumbu leaves a worrying sign.

Skipper Scott Brown is already ruled out with a calf strain, and both Nir Bitton and Marvin Compper remain the long-term casualties. However, Kristoffer Ajer, Filip Benkovic and Michael Johnston were seen back in training on Friday afternoon and should hand Rodgers a massive boost in lining up a strong XI.

Hearts

The Jambos, on the other hand, will miss Jamie Brandon (knee), Christophe Berra (hamstring), John Souttar (hip), and Uche Ikpeazu (foot) who are all out for a while. Peter Haring missed out the last couple of games through an abdominal strain, but might still make it to Craig Levein’s matchday squad after a few good recovery sessions. Craig Wighton, meanwhile, is cup-tied as he has already appeared in this competition for Dundee prior to his summer move.

Predicted Lineups

Celtic

Craig Gordon; Mikael Lustig, Jack Hendry, Filip Benkovic, Kieran Tierney; Eboue Kouassi, Olivier Ntcham, James Forrest, Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor; Odsonne Edouard.

Hearts

Zdenek Zlamal; Michael Smith, Clevid Dikamona, Jimmy Dunne, Demetri Mitchell; Callum Morrison, Peter Haring, Harry Cochrane, Arnaud Sutchuin Djoum, Steven MacLean, Steven Naismith.

Key Men

Celtic

Celtic have a few quality names in their ranks despite recent shambles. Odsonne Edouard, the club-record recruit from PSG, netted a brace against Hibernian last weekend and will look to replicate a similar show on Sunday afternoon. James Forrest is in blistering form having scored four goals against St Johnston earlier this month. Callum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham will threaten the opponents if allowed space and free runs.

Hearts

Steven Naismith, the former Everton attacker, is in astounding form having scored seven goals and assisted thrice in ten league outings. He has also scored four and assisted once in five League Cup fixtures and leads the scorers’ list in his country so far this term.

Odds

Celtic win – 7/10

Draw (Reach Extra-time) – 14/5

Hearts win – 15/4

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