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Celtic vs. Hearts: Preview, Prediction & Betting Tips

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      Overview

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              Celtic vs. Hearts: Preview, Prediction & Betting Tips

              As the Scottish Premiership edges towards an enthralling climax, Celtic and Hearts are set to lock horns this Saturday in a fixture rife with implications for both the title race and European qualification.

              Date: 04/05/2024

              Kick-off time: 15:00

              Location: Celtic Park

              Celtic, under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers—who returned to the club after the departure of Ange Postecoglou last summer—find themselves at the pinnacle of the league, albeit with the breath of their arch-rivals, Rangers, hot on their necks. The Bhoys are sitting at the top with 78 points from 33 games, a slender three-point lead that leaves no room for complacency.

              Rodgers, whose previous tenure at Celtic was marked by domestic dominance, has approached his second spell with a blend of pragmatism and tactical continuity. Despite the lack of the spectacular flair often expected by the Parkhead faithful, his strategy has been effective, albeit unspectacular. This season's narrative has not been about flamboyant football but rather a steady accumulation of points, with an emphasis on resilience and tactical discipline.

              Key to Celtic's performance has been the midfield maestro, Matt O'Riley. His ability to control the tempo of the game and his precision in transition phases have been invaluable. Defensively, Liam Scales and Greg Taylor have been stalwarts, forming a formidable backline that has conceded only 26 goals in 33 games. Their solidity will be crucial as Celtic aims to clinch a third consecutive league title and edge closer to Rangers' record of 55 Scottish Premiership titles.

              Meanwhile, Hearts, led by Steven Naismith, have carved out their own narrative of success, firmly establishing themselves as the "best of the rest" behind the Glasgow giants. Currently sitting third with 62 points from the same number of games, they have already guaranteed themselves a spot in the second qualifying round of next season's Europa League.

              However, their aspirations do not stop there. Holding onto their current position is pivotal as it assures them a place in the Europa League playoffs—an achievement that would mark a significant step forward for the club both on and off the pitch. The Tynecastle outfit have demonstrated both resilience and flair throughout the season, with their recent form against the top teams underscoring their potential to disrupt the established order.

              Lawrence Shankland has been a revelation up front, netting 28 goals across all competitions. His sharpshooting has been crucial for Hearts' attacking thrust and will be vital if they are to breach Celtic's defence. At the back, Frankie Kent has been the cornerstone of a defence that has consistently thwarted the advances of the league's best attackers.

              The recent head-to-head record paints a picture of closely contested battles, with Celtic winning three of the last five encounters, while Hearts have triumphed in the two most recent clashes. These outcomes highlight a shift in the competitive dynamics between the two sides, suggesting that Saturday's clash could be more about tactical astuteness and less about historical dominance.

              From a tactical standpoint, Rodgers might stick to his pragmatic approach, focusing on controlling the midfield and exploiting the flanks through Yang Hyun-jun and Nicolas-Gerrit Kühn.

              Conversely, Naismith is likely to employ a compact defensive structure, aiming to exploit Celtic's occasional vulnerability to counter-attacks. Shankland's role will be critical, not just in finishing but in pulling Celtic's centre-backs out of position to create spaces for midfield runners.

              With the title race so finely poised and European spots up for grabs, the atmosphere at Celtic Park is expected to be electric. Both sets of fans understand the magnitude of the fixture—not just for the immediate consequences but for the broader implications on the Scottish football landscape.

              As Celtic strive to maintain their slender lead at the top, and Hearts look to cement their European ambitions, Saturday’s game promises to be a compelling chapter in the story of this season's Scottish Premiership.

              Both Teams To Score

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              Celtic To Win

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              Celtic To Win @ 5/6
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              Celtic To Win Both Halves

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              Celtic To Win Both Halves @ 11/8
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              Team News

              Celtic Team News:

              Liam Scales is touch and go for Celtic and will likely face a late fitness test, but this game will probably come too soon for forward Daizen Maeda, despite the fact he's nearing a return.

              Midfielder James McCarthy will continue to miss out here.

              Hearts Team News:

              Liam Boyce and Craig Hackett remain on the sidelines for the away side while Peter Haring and Calem Nieuwenhof are both doubts. However, the latter stands a decent chance of featuring in this one.

              Form Guide

              The home side are coming into this game amidst a strong run of form having gone unbeaten in their last six games, winning four of those. Most recently, Celtic played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Aberdeen in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup that ended in a penalty shootout win for the Bhoys. Celtic were 2-1 up heading into the final minute of normal time thanks to goals from Nicolas-Gerrit Kühn and James Forrest, but a goal from Ester Sokler sent the game into extra-time. Matt O'Riley put Brendan Rodgers' side 3-2 up before yet another last-gasp equaliser brought Aberdeen level once again. Celtic eventually won 6-5 on penalties after the shootout went into sudden death.

              Prior to that, Celtic ran out 3-0 winners against St. Mirren courtesy of goals from Reo Hatate, Hyogo Furuhashi and Adam Idah in a comprehensively dominant win. That result followed a 3-3 draw away at bitter rivals Rangers where they were minutes away from securing a vital 3-2 win before Rangers salvaged a point through a 93rd-minute equaliser after Daizen Maeda, Matt O'Riley and Adam Idah had given them the advantage.

              Prior to that, Celtic registered consecutive wins against Livingston (3-0) and St. Johnstone (3-1) .

              Hearts' form is much more mixed as they come into this game having won two, drawn two and lost one of their last five games. Their latest outing was a drab 0-0 draw away at Kilmarnock in a pretty forgettable encounter. That result preceded a 2-0 defeat against Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.

              Before that, Hearts registered successive wins, first away at St. Mirren where a goal from Jorge Grant and a Mikael Mandron own goal gave them a 2-1 victory. After that, Hearts secured a 4-2 win against Livingston which came thanks to goals from Jorge Grant, Yutaro Oda, Cameron Devlin and Lawrence Shankland.

              Away from home, Hearts have won two, drawn one and lost two of their last five games.

              Footy Accumulators Prediction

              Hearts have a good recent record against Celtic but it's still tough to imagine them taking something from this game. Celtic are generally excellent on home soil and have plenty enough experience at navigating their way through title run-ins so it's unlikely they'll drop points in a game like this. Celtic 3-1 Hearts.

              Don’t forget to check out the rest of our previews, tips and offers for this weekend’s action. Footy Accumulators is the #1 football betting site for the latest on betting in the UK - download the Betting Hub app for more!

              Header logoScottish Premiership - 2nd Phase - Championship Group

              PosClubPWDLGDPTS
              1
              Team logoCeltic
              382963+6593
              2
              Team logoRangers
              382747+5585
              3
              Team logoHearts
              3820810+1268
              Last updated 18/05/2024

              Header logoScottish Premiership - 2nd Phase - Championship Group

              PosClubPWDLGDPTS
              2
              Team logoRangers
              382747+5585
              3
              Team logoHearts
              3820810+1268
              4
              Team logoKilmarnock
              38141410+256
              Last updated 18/05/2024

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