Despite conceding first on back-to-back occasions, Celtic bounced back exquisitely both against St Mirren and Hearts. But they will once again lock horns with the Jamtarts – this time to secure a place in the Scottish Cup semifinal. While the Hoops remain firm favourites to eliminate Robbie Neilson’s men, however, the home crowd of Tynecastle would uplift the hosts’ spirit after yet another disappointing night at Parkhead.
Although Hearts have lost all the meetings so far this season, their previous clash in Edinburgh was a seven-goal thriller. Lawrence Shankland scored a hat-trick for the home side, but the Celts showed sheer grit and determination to make it 4-3 in their favour. They can’t afford a setback on Saturday afternoon, as it would shatter their dream of a ‘domestic treble’ under Ange Postecoglou.
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic Lineup To Face Hearts
The Aussie boss made a few changes this midweek, but he has relied on Joe Hart between the sticks across competitions. The Englishman continues to be the ‘number 1’ choice ahead of Benjamin Siegrist, Conor Hazard and Scott Bain.
Celtic have a stable central defensive pairing in Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt. Yuki Kobayashi and Stephen Welsh must wait for their opportunities in the heart of the backline, but the fullback duo of Alistair Johnston and Greg Taylor is expected to return to the starting XI replacing Anthony Ralston and Alexandro Bernabei respectively.
The Hoops have ample options in the centre of the pitch and the gaffer would undergo a selection dilemma before the tie. Having said that, skipper Callum McGregor is irreplaceable deep down the midfield with his vision, distribution and game-reading traits. He should pull the strings from his ‘number 6’ role, also Reo Hatate is likely to reclaim his place after starting from the bench on Wednesday. Matt O’Riley should make way for the Japanese ace, but veteran Aussie wizard Aaron Mooy must retain his spot given his exquisite run of form as a box-to-box playmaker. David Turnbull and Tomoki Iwata might get involved as second-half substitutes alongside O’Riley.
Daizen Maeda was forced to leave the pitch with a knee injury and the versatile Japan international could miss the weekend contest unless he passes a late fitness test. James Forrest is also sidelined with a muscle strain, and the manager, therefore, is tipped to deploy Liel Abada and Filipe Jota down the flanks allowing Kyogo Furuhashi to spearhead the attack. Sead Haksabanovic and Oh Hyeon-gyu should feature as ‘super subs’ similar to recent encounters.