'A spirited showing, but Rangers unlikely to be as impotent as Tynecastle display' - Journalists' predictions for Rangers v Hearts
Our online team try to predict the correct result as Hearts and Rangers do battle in this Hampden encounter
This match clearly takes a slightly different tack now that Craig Levein has left the manager's hotseat.
I don't actually think his departure will have much of a bearing on Hearts. The squad will be all over the place after this week's happenings.
Austin MacPhee needs to morph into Jurgen Klopp to get this Hearts side close to Rangers if the Ibrox side fire on all cylinders.
Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent will run the show to set up an Old Firm final. Prediction: Rangers win
Much will depend on how the Hearts players react to this week’s events.
Even amid their league struggles under Craig Levein, the Tynecastle side proved themselves capable of rising to the occasion against any team in the country on their day.
They showed as recently as a fortnight ago that they can compete with Rangers and, given they way they played on their last visit to Hampden in May for the Scottish Cup final against Celtic, they will feel they can make a game of it again this weekend.
Rangers, however, are unlikely to be as impotent as they were at Tynecastle a week past Sunday. Prediction: Narrow Rangers win
MacPhee masterminding a famous victory against Rangers at Hampden is it? Ok, probably not.
I have absolutely no idea what to expect from the assistant of the past three years but I know he's still lacking several key first-team players in order to remain competitive with Steven Gerrard's men.
Hearts may have earned a 1-1 draw with the Ibrox side in the last meeting between the club but that's maybe the worst Rangers have played all season.
They were frighteningly good against County and I wouldn't be surprised if they dished out another beating at the national stadium. Prediction: Rangers win
Wednesday night's defeat in Perth was the first time I had seen Hearts live this season and their were truly woeful.
I do, however, believe the players will have more of a fight about them now that Craig Levein has been removed from his role as manager.
His presence on the touchline and the fans' reaction had got to the stage where it was clearly affecting the players, so I can see an improvement starting at Hampden on Sunday.
However, it won't be enough to stop Rangers from advancing to the final. Prediction: Rangers win.
I accept that sometimes a managerial departure can overhaul a team's fortunes, but the fact remains that Hearts are on a poor run of form and are missing several key players as their injury curse drags on into 2020.
We don't yet know what caretaker boss Austin MacPhee has up his sleeve but it will be interesting to see his take on tactics and formation in a bid to thwart Rangers.
However, I suspect that you could hand MacPhee a magic wand and it still wouldn't do the trick. If Rangers put in even 75 per cent of their performance against Ross County midweek, then this is only going one way. Prediction: Rangers win
The dynamic of the match has altered somewhat. The Hearts fans going will have a spring in their step after the departure of Craig Levein as manager.
That being said, with the current softness in the side, it is still hard to see the team getting past Steven Gerrard's Rangers.
If Austin MacPhee can motivate the players sufficiently and maybe spring a surprise or two with the selection they could take the Ibrox side all the way.
I expect a spirited display but ultimately one which will end with Hearts losing. Prediction: Draw but Rangers to win in extra-time.