'A substantial gulf in quality and feelgood factor' - Journalists' predictions for Hearts v Celtic
Our online team try to predict the correct result as Hearts host Celtic at Tynecastle this evening
While this match might actually suit Hearts a bit more than previous tie due to them being heavy underdogs and the pressure being off, there is a substantial gulf in quality and feelgood factor between the two clubs.
An early Celtic goal would make this a long night for the hosts. There is no logical reason to predict a Hearts win - but then football isn't always about logic.
Even still, this match is firmly on Celtic's feet. Prediction: Hearts 0 Celtic 3
Hearts have generally played well against Celtic at Tynecastle in recent seasons even though the points return hasn’t always reflected that.
For all that they have struggled badly over the past year, they still seem able to rouse themselves for big matches at Tynecastle, such as the games against Aberdeen (in the Betfred Cup) and Rangers earlier this term.
I suspect we’ll see a fairly spirited display from Daniel Stendel’s side, but ultimately Celtic’s superiority will shine through. Prediction: Hearts 1 Celtic 2
What's the opposite of a superlative? Because I've run out of those trying to describe Hearts this year. Even still, last Saturday was a new low.
So many times I've said that this squad is a decent one, it just needs a new manager with new ideas to get the best out of them? And what happened when they got that new manager?
They were worse than ever - failing to register a shot on target and meekly losing to a St Johnstone side that have had their fair share of testing times so far this term. So what a time for the club who've beaten Lazio home and away this season to come to town.
I believe this will be so one-sided the referee starts weeping because he can't stop the game before the 90 minutes have finished. Prediction: Heavy Celtic win
The visit of the champions, seven days before Christmas, under the lights, would have, in the past, whetted the appetite of most Hearts fans.
Times have changed though - and not for the better. The weekend defeat by St Johnstone was always a likely outcome and it reinforced to Daniel Stendel the job he has on his hands if he is to steer the Gorgie side away from the relegation zone.
I really fear for the Jambos this evening. Celtic are flying despite not being at their best but I can see them scoring at least four without reply. Prediction: Easy Celtic win.
Glancing at the Hearts squad - numerous players sidelined, key striker suspended, captain an injury doubt - this looks like a Football Manager challenge. Celtic didn't really need to get out of second gear against Hibs at Parkhead and that was without Mohamed Elyounoussi and Ryan Christie - although the latter is due back tonight.
Tynecastle can be a difficult place to go thanks to the steepness of the stands and the narrow pitch, but as evidenced last Saturday, there is a tense atmosphere in the arena that Celtic can, and will feed on if they're given the chance.
Things seem so bleak at Hearts that an early goal for the visitors, or the hosts passing up a good chance may be all it takes for the crowd to turn, and the Hoops will surely thrive on that. Football can be a funny game and Celtic aren't without the odd stinker away from home, but I see this as being pretty routine for the champions. Prediction: Celtic win
If Hearts had beaten St Johnstone this would have been very different. Confidence picked up, big game under the lights at the festive period.
The fans would have been right behind the team and they would likely have made it very difficult for the league leaders. Alas, St Johnstone won and it increased the negativity around the team.
You could count on one hand the number of players who are liked by supporters so the patience wanted by Daniel Stendel is going to be in short supply. It is hard to see the team possessing the creativity, pace and verve to trouble Celtic. Prediction: Celtic win