|Place: Hampden Park, see you in Glasgow: Saturday the 31st. October: 17:00 GMT|
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One day to make statements, one day to settle scores – Saturday’s Scottish Cup-half finals will be the Edinburgh Derby like no other.
No supporters, a team flying high in the Premier League with status on their side, the other limited to the League with proof of the point, and the meeting of December with Aberdeen or Celtic in their sights.
Scottish expert Michael Stewart was part of the frenzy on both sides of the heart-to-heart and hybrid divide. Here he leads us through the main battlefields of this exciting confrontation.
Can worm players cope with strong growth?
Despite the sudden relegation of the Hearts to second place, they still have a team that can boast experienced and seasoned players.
Former Celtic and Scottish goalkeeper Craig Gordon will score a goal. At 37, he hasn’t scored in his first four games since returning to Tynecastle.
The midweek jump with the Airdrieoniansexternal link gave the Austrian midfielder Peter Haring time to hurry up, while Captain – and Scottish veteran Stephen Neismith – scored a goal without having played in any of his team’s championship games.
There’s no doubt the Hearts have a good team, Stuart said. Craig is a huge bonus and an improvement because they fought for the goalkeeper and he is the best striker.
Stephen hasn’t played in the last few weeks, which is disturbing. Are you playing with him? I’m not sure he does, but if you’re threatened with attack, you always have targets.
The only thing that applies to the Hearts is that they’re catching up. Andy Halliday and Haring, for example, didn’t play many games. It would be interesting to see how well the Hearts did.
Can the rebirth of hybrid horses continue?
Almost 12 months have passed since Jack Ross was appointed to the Osterstrasse. When it was the 15th. In November they were eighth in the standings, and there were only two victories in the championship.
Since then, the transformation has been wonderful. Martin Boyle got back in shape, Christian Deuce started scoring goals and work in the transfer market brought important results like Alex Gogich and Kevin Nisbeth.
Hibras are probably the marginal favourites, but it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens, Stuart said. For a long time they went to the derby with fear.
Jack did a really good job. He has a good posture, and they have a good balance and flexibility. You can see the thought process.
Points to pay?
Both teams want to prove it in Hampden. Let’s start with hearts…
Last season they retired after a narrow drift at the end of the folded campaign. Months of gall followed, while Anne Budge was the owner of the club, and the club’s lawyers organized a bad trial.
The flame of injustice is still burning brightly among the supporters, and Stuart believes that everything in the lodge will remain the same.
For Hearts, he says, people feel obliged to make a statement after everything that has happened to them.
When I’m in this locker room, you get cut, you’re in the league, you play a game against your biggest opponents. Lucky for her. It’ll be a decent team, but we’ll always be there.
For the Hibs, the chance to beat the pain at the hands of the Hampdens could be part of the pre-match chatter after a 5-1 demolition of the Hampden in the 2012 Scottish Cup final.
It’s an opportunity to make a statement, especially after the finals where they were absolutely beaten, Stuart added.
Hopefully the two teams won’t cancel each other out and throw hay on each other. It’s a fascinating game and it will be great to see him play.