Celtic vs Hearts: History to be made in Scottish Cup final, says Andy Walker

Celtic can win a 12th successive domestic trophy if they beat Hearts in the Scottish Cup final on Sunday at Hampden Park; Robbie Neilson's side beat Rangers in the quarter-finals; Follow with our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports' digital platforms

Celtic captain Scott Brown with the William Hill Scottish Cup
Image: Celtic could win their 12th successive domestic title if they win the Scottish Cup final this weekend, which Andy Walker says would be a 'bit of history'

With the 2019/20 Scottish Cup final taking place on Sunday, Andy Walker gives his insight and prediction as Celtic prepare to take on Hearts at Hampden Park.

In normal times, the Scottish Cup final stands alone as the major cup competition to be played for at the end of the season at Hampden and more often than not, in baking sunshine.

Not this year.

Unlike last season's league competitions that were called early, the Scottish Cup of 2019/20 will be played to a finish on Sunday in the bitter cold of a dark winter, just five days before Christmas.

Celtic are going for what would be a never-to-be-forgotten quadruple treble if they overcome Scottish Championship side Hearts in the middle of a stuttering league challenge in the Scottish Premiership to Rangers.

Sadly, like most of the Scottish games this season, it will be played inside an empty arena with neither set of fans able to enjoy a remarkable victory no matter who prevails on the day.

For Celtic, a win would signify the astonishing level of dominance that they have had on Scottish football since Brendan Rodgers took over from Ronny Deila in 2016, the Northern Irishman winning eight trophies in succession before leaving for Leicester City.

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon celebrates winning the Scottish Cup against Hearts.
Image: Neil Lennon has won four domestic trophies since returning to Celtic but remains under pressure

It highlights how brutal and unforgiving management can be that Neil Lennon has won all four domestic trophies since then, is on the verge of winning five out of five and yet he could still find himself out of a job if a large section of the support get their way when things are reviewed in January.

For 'reviewed in January' as described by the Celtic board at their recent AGM in answer to fans growing protests, read 'we will see if we can win at Ibrox on January 2 to reduce a sizable gap'. If not, Lennon could be on his way out.

As always, team selection will be crucial while Neil Lennon has stumbled on a midfield chemistry of Ismaila Soro, David Turnbull, Jeremie Frimpong to complement Calum McGregor, the likelihood is that the Celtic manager will find a place for the experienced Scott Brown.

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Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Kilmarnock

Brown has been at Hampden many times and led Celtic to numerous triumphs. It seems that Lennon desperately wants to give his captain another chance to steer his players to a truly remarkable recent haul of trophies.

You get the feeling that for so many Celtic fans, the only show in town this season is the Scottish Premiership title given the massive significance of achieving 10-in-a-row. But players love to win things and I'd be amazed if Celtic produce anything as bad as the woeful performance they came up with recently losing to Ross County in the Scottish League Cup.

For Robbie Neilson and his Hearts side, without going over all of the nonsense and confusion that saw various club relationships strained to breaking point over the summer, in the end it was the Tynecastle club who bore the brunt and were relegated from the Scottish Premiership on a points-per-game basis while survival was very much on the cards.

In my view, Hearts are a Scottish Premiership side in everything but name.

23/05/19.HAMPDEN - GLASGOW.Hearts manager captain Christophe Berra (L) and Celtic captain Scott Brown preview the upcoming William Hill Scottish Cup Final.
Image: Hearts and Celtic met in the 2018/19 Scottish Cup final, which Celtic won 2-1

Currently leading the Scottish Championship and certainties to bounce back to the top-flight at the first time of asking, they can call upon the experience of Craig Gordon, Christophe Berra, Steven Naismith and Liam Boyce.

Like Brown, goalkeeper Gordon has the understanding and familiarity of knowing what it takes to achieve success given how formidable he performed time and time again in a Celtic shirt over the years.

It will sting members of the Celtic board if he manages to be part of a shock Hearts win while his £5m replacement Vasilis Barkas is unsure of a starting slot and has much to do to convince the Celtic faithful that he's up to the job.

Hearts beat Rangers in an earlier round of this competition so that tells you they are capable of rising to the occasion. Beating Hibs in the semi-final was another notable scalp and that recent experience of playing at Hampden should serve them well.

Hearts enjoyed a thumping 6-1 win over Queen of the South last weekend
Image: Hearts are currenting top of the Scottish Championship

Berra and Craig Halkett are a sound defensive partnership in front of Gordon and with Naismith and Jamie Walker supporting Boyce, they have numerous players who can impose themselves on the big stage.

But the lure of securing a quadruple treble will surely see Celtic handle anything that even the best Hearts performance can throw at them.

Think about that for a second - a win at Hampden on Sunday will be the 12th domestic trophy in succession for the Scottish champions.

I don't think anyone will come close to achieving that run of success again in my lifetime and even allowing for their recent poor form, I think a bit of history will be made at Hampden on Sunday.

Andy Walker's prediction: Celtic 2-1 Hearts

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