BETFRED CUP SEMI-FINAL: HIBERNIAN V CELTIC; SATURDAY 21ST OCTOBER 12:15PM
It’s a lunchtime showdown at an all green Hampden at Celtic continue our defence of the Betfred Cup with a semi-final against Neil Lennon’s Hibs.
Team Selection: The first thing to mention is that, in a development that will surprise no one, Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that Jozo Simunovic is out for another couple of weeks with his continuing hamstring problems.
So who will the manager play at the back alongside Boyata? I would play Kristoffer Ajer but I think it will be Nir Bitton, with Mikael Lustig back to his natural right back position.
A change I think we could well see is Dorus de Vries playing in goals. Even though Craig Gordon did pull off some great saves against Bayern arguably his distribution issues lead to a goal and after de Vries’ good performance against Dundee last week he may well get the nod to start in goal.
In midfield I would expect Callum McGregor who wasn’t involved at all on Wednesday and scored a brace against Hibs last month to start, Rogic and Forrest did relatively well when they came on against Bayern so they could both feature.
Up-front Moussa Dembele is surely a cert to replace Leigh Griffiths, who seems to have gone off the boil slightly. A fight and raring to go Dembele can cause Hibs all sorts of problems.
Previous Meetings: The teams played out an exciting 2-2 draw at Celtic Park last month, with Callum McGregor and John Rankin each helping themselves to a brace.
Our last league cup game against Hibs was in 2011, with Celtic winning 4-1 in a quarter final at Easter Road. After Ivan Sproule gave Hibs an early lead four second-half goals from Anthony Stokes, Gary Hooper and James Forrest put Celtic into the semi-final.
Prediction: This game will be very difficult, Neil Lennon will have Hibs up for it and quite a few Celtic players will be ‘knackered’ after playing Bayern in midweek. However, if we are able to stifle John McGinn then I’m confident that the players Celtic bring in will get the job done, even if the game does go into extra-time.
Hibs 1 Celtic 2 (After Extra Time)