It is not very often that the same teams meet in the Scottish Cup Final two seasons in a row. That is what is happened in Scottish football though, as Celtic and Hearts meet in the final for the second season in a row in Sunday’s delayed Hampden showcase.
Of course there will be differences in both sides since the 2019 meeting. For a start, Hearts will have a different manager. Robbie Neilson will be in charge instead of Craig Levein.
However, on the pitch, Hearts have made some changes to the squad since that cup final in May 2019. Let’s look at how the squad has improved.
Craig Gordon provides experience and winning mentality
The signing of Craig Gordon on a free transfer from Celtic in the summer could go down as one of the best transfers of the season.
The 36-year-old has brought a vast amount of experience to the side, and also a winning mentality, as he won so many trophies with Celtic. The goalkeeper will be a key man for Hearts in their quest to win a first Scottish Cup since 2012.
Emergence of the ‘two Andys’ in the middle of the park
Hearts have a solid midfield to build on thanks to the duo of Andy Halliday and Andy Irving. Halliday arrived on a free transfer after leaving Rangers and has proved to be a solid addition.
Meanwhile, Irving is currently providing drive in the middle of the park, and has made a first-team spot his own this season.
Look for Irving and Halliday to give Hearts a platform to work from against Celtic at Hampden Park.
Steven Naismith’s injury issues have cleared up
Hearts captain Steven Naismith missed the cup final in 2019 as he was recovering from a knee operation. That was a blow to Hearts as his experience would have provided invaluable.
However, this season the veteran striker has suffered no injury issues at all, and is set to lead Hearts out at Hampden Park.
The 34-year-old has scored two goals this season, and his presence alone should give Hearts a boost that the team was lacking in the 2019 cup final.