Ex-Hibs star 'sticks neck out' with big Hearts vs Rangers claim, Brendan Rodgers hails Celtic 'game-changer'

Hearts will take on Rangers in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup today.
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Hearts fans eagerly await this afternoon’s kick-off as they prepare to take on Rangers for a place in the Scottish Cup final. Celtic earned their spot after an exhilarating 3-3 draw with Aberdeen, which ended with the Hoops nicking the win via penalties.

The Jambos are up against this season’s Scottish Premiership title challengers Rangers. The two sides last met back in February and the Gers stormed to a dominant 5-0 win at Ibrox — can Hearts get revenge at Hampden Park?

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Ex-Hibs star backs Hearts to upset Rangers

While many have predicted an all-Glasgow final, former Hibs star Tam McManus has actually backed his former rivals to get the job done and cause an upset to Philippe Clement and co in today’s Scottish Cup semi-final.

“I think Hearts have got the players. Semi-final, all the pressure is on Rangers. Rangers are under massive pressure after the last two performances. Absolutely [all hell breaks loose if Rangers lose],” McManus said on PLZ Soccer (via Rangers News).

“I think that the last two games have seen the league, in my opinion, slip away and if they get put out of the Cup then they’ve only got a League Cup to show for the season, which is not enough for Rangers.

“I think if Hearts score first, it’ll be interesting to see if the Rangers players want the ball. Do they hide? It’s a big pressure situation, the Rangers fans will get on their backs again.

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“I think with Lawrence Shankland, guys like that in the team at Hearts, I think Hearts might sneak it. I’m going to stick my neck out and say I think Hearts might nick this in extra time or penalties, I think it’ll go all the way.”

Rodgers hails Celtic ‘game-changer’

Hearts are up against the chance to play Celtic in the final and their nail-biting clash against Aberdeen left Brendan Rodgers with a lot to digest in his post-match press conference. While he discussed a lot from the match, including Joe Hart’s penalty in the shootout, he took time to praise James Forrest, who he brought on in the second half to add ‘calmness and authority’.

“He was absolutely brilliant, he changed the game for us,” the Hoops boss said. “It was just his composure and his quality. We started to keep the ball in the final third, he got the goal. He’s just a big-game player with big-game experience.

“I wanted to bring someone on with calmness and authority and James had that. He’s shown recently what a big part he has to play in the final part of the season, especially with Daizen Maeda being out for us.”