Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Prediction: Celtic vs Hearts

Verdict: Celtic/Celtic

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: bet365

Scottish Premier League holders Celtic kick off the new campaign at home against Hearts, a team that have been on a downtrend of late. The Bhoys did well to secure their place in the Champions League play-offs, but it’s time to focus on getting the league championship to a good start.

Celtic

With their bitter rivals Rangers spending the last few years in the lower echelons of the Scottish league system, Celtic didn’t really have a worthy opponent on domestic stage, easing off to six successive SPL trophies. The Bhoys began the new season with a virtually unchanged squad, as Oliver Ntcham was the inly notable addition and there were no major departures. Celtic enjoyed a bright start to the Champions League qualifiers, hammering Linfield 6-0 on aggregate, but the goalless draw in the first leg against Rosenborg hinted they could experience problems in Norway. The Bhoys, nonetheless, largely dominated the return match, and eventually managed to score the winning goal through James Forrest, making sure to reach the Champions League play-off stage. While they await the outcome of the draw in Nyon, Brendan Rodgers and his men will have to shift their focus to the opening SPL fixture against Hearts, as the games now start coming thick and fast for the reigning champions. Celtic defeated Hearts 2-0 on the final day of last season and they will now be looking for more of the same.

Team News

Star striker Leigh Griffiths should start after recovering from injury, but Erik Sviatchenko and Moussa Demebele are unavailable for selection.

Hearts

One of Scottish most famous clubs have endured some tough times of late, with rock-bottom finish (13 points) in the 2013/14 season one of their lowest points yet. The Jambos did manage to get back straight to the elite division and went on to achieve a third-place finish upon return, but they didn’t do too well last term, finishing in fifth place. The club did make some very good signings this summer as Christophe Berra, Kyle Lafferty, Ashley Smith-Brown and Connor Randall all joined, whereas Connor Sammon returned from a successful loan spell at Kilmarnock. The club board surprisingly sacked head coach Ian Cathro just days before the league campaign was due to start, leaving Jon Daly as interim manager. The Jambos already have several competitive fixtures under their belt having taken part in the 2017/2018 League Cup, but two wins and two defeats against weak opposition can hardly give them confidence heading into the Celtic game.

Team News

Rangers target Jamie Walker is not in the squad as he could soon complete a move to Ibrox, but there are no other fresh problems for interim boss Jon Daly.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Celtic won last six meetings with Hearts
  • The Jambos failed to score in last three of those
  • Hearts are winless in last 19 matches vs the Bhoys (D2 L17)
  • Celtic have yet to concede a goal this season
  • Hearts sacked their manager few days ago

Conclusion

Celtic have been in fine form of late and they can be trusted to make it seven wins on the bounce in meetings with Hearts. The Jambos are struggling for form at the moment and the recent managerial change is unlikely to help either.

Verdict: Celtic/Celtic

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: bet365

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