The Scottish Cup Final is the final game of a season that to say the least has been forgettable. Can the oldest club cup competition in the world produce some welcome entertainment and cheer for the Scottish game? We can only hope.
In our previous article on the Scottish Cup Final, we asked a Hibernian fan and a Celtic fan to give us their views on the game. Now it is the turn of a neutral, that being our very own contributor and Inverness Caley Thistle fan Nathan MacKenzie.
Who are the key players for each side?
Celtic: Kris Commons – He might have retired from the Scotland national team this week at the grand old age of err…29, but Commons has had a season to remember. Having scored 19 goals in all competitions, including three already in the Scottish Cup, the retiree from Mansfield will be looking to add to his burgeoning medal collection having already won two league medals and one Scottish cup in his two and half years at Celtic Park.
Hibernian: Leigh Griffiths – Do I really have to explain the reasons behind this decision? Well the 22-year-old from Leith has scored 28 goals this season for his boyhood heroes or to put it another way, he has scored 48% of Hibernian’s goals this season. The Scottish players young player of the year could even have to spend next season in the English third tier if Wolves get their way. Many in Leith will be hoping that this boy done good can become a club legend and secure the Hibees first Scottish Cup triumph in 111 years.
What are the main strengths of each side?
Celtic: Goals, goals, goals. Celtic have scored from every end of the pitch this season. Hooper might not have being prolific as he could have being this year, but the rest of the Celtic squad have helped out. Mulgrew has stuck in nine along with Wanyama, Commons has got nineteen, while Lustig and Ambrose have three a piece in all competitions.
Hibernian: The Fans. With Hibs having sold out their allocation, many of whom are still trying to forget the last final. I’m sure they will give Hibs the boost they need in order to walk those famous steps and see a Hibs player hold aloft the Scottish Cup for the first time in 111 years.
What are the main weaknesses of each side?
Celtic: Complacency – Having won its last two SPL encounters by four goals to none, Celtic will be hoping that its complacency problems that have riddled the club this season in domestic competition doesn’t come back to harm Lennon and his
Bhoys again. Lennon will especially want to inspire his side to the double and get this Hampden ghost of his back.
Hibernian: Defence – Having conceded 52 goals in the SPL this term, Hibees Achilles heel is obviously its shaky back line which will be losing its leader, McPake who will miss the final due to injury.
How will the managers set out their teams tactically?
Celtic: Suspecting Lennon will go with a four, four , two line up with young Watt and Hooper up front. The midfield will consist of Brown and Mulgrew in the middle supported by Commons and Ledley on the wings. In defence, the centre pairing will consist of Ambrose and Wilson, supported by Izaguirre and Lustig out wide. Neil Lennon will be looking to put the pressure on from the start and keep the ball high up in the Hibs end of the pitch. With a strong midfield, Celtic should be able to dominate proceedings and give Hooper and Watt the opportunities to get some early goals.
Lennon will know the threat that Griffiths possess and should have him well marked throughout the game. Watts pace should cause problems for a leaky Hibs defence which is without its leader McPake. In Brown, Ledley and Mulgrew, Lennon will have a midfield which should easily dominate anything that Hibs can throw at it.
Hibernian: Fenlon could start with a similar side that started last week against Dundee but replace Ross Caldwell with Kevin Thomson to give the midfield an extra man. A four, five, one line up with Griffiths up top and Williams in goal. The midfield five of Jorge Claros, David Wotherspoon, Scott Robertson, Tom Taiwo and Kevin Thomson. The back four will consist of Ryan McGivern, Paul Hanlon, Alan Maybury and young Jordan Forster. Pat Fenlon will be looking to the rest of his squad as well as his talismanic striker to help his side get through this final.
Hibs will be looking to get a good early foot in the game and avoid any early goals which have come in their last two visits to Hampden. By swamping the midfield, Fenlon will be hoping to limit Celtic’s chances as well as hope to create as many as possible for Griffiths who if given the opportunity should put the ball in the back of the net. Hibs main weakness will be its defence especially since it will be missing McPake meaning fans can expect the midfield to sit deep in order to help the defence. Fenlon will know if they go a goal behind he can bring on the young and exciting Ross Caldwell or a resurgent Eoin Doyle.
Your Predicted line-ups?
Celtic: (4-4-2) Fraser Forster, Charlie Mulgrew, Efe Ambrose, Emilio Izaguirre, Kelvin Wilson, Kris Commons, Scott Brown, Mikael Lustig, Joe Ledley, Tony Watt, Gary Hooper.
Hibernian: (4-5-1) Ben Williams, Ryan McGivern, Paul Hanlon, Alan Maybury, Jordan Forster, Jorge Claros, David Wotherspoon, Scott Robertson, Tom Taiwo, Kevin Thomson, Leigh Griffiths.
Celtic 3 – 2 Hibernian. Goals for Celtic, two from Commons and Watt. Hibs to get a double from Griffiths.