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Heart of Midlothian v Celtic

Watch: A day in the life of a Scottish Cup final referee
Scottish Cup final: Heart of Midlothian v Celtic
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday, 25 May Time: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland; text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

It has taken 140 games for Celtic to get to the brink of a treble treble. Now they are just 90 minutes on Saturday from completing an unprecedented feat.

The Parkhead club have won every domestic Scottish honour available for the past three seasons. Securing a ninth successive piece of silverware in the Scottish Cup final would clinch the sixth treble in Celtic's history and their most special of all.

Neil Lennon's team have yet to concede in the competition this season - and have won all four ties by at least two goals - but face a Hearts side who are not heading to Hampden to make up the numbers.

A season that promised so much for the Tynecastle men - they topped the Scottish Premiership for the first three months - has petered out to a sixth-place finish with cup glory a golden chance of salvation.

Injuries to key players have severely hampered Hearts throughout the campaign, but they are one of only four teams to inflict a domestic defeat on Celtic this term, beating them 1-0 at Tynecastle in August.

They are looking to summon the spirit of 2012 - when they demolished Hibernian 5-1 in the final - as they return to the scene of that memorable triumph bidding to lift the trophy for the ninth time.

How they got to Hampden

Celtic's road to the Scottish Cup final
Hearts' road to the Scottish Cup final

Previous final meetings

Hearts hold the upper hand in previous Scottish Cup finals between the pair, but it is more than 60 years since the sides last went head to head for the trophy.

On that occasion, in 1956, a crowd of nearly 133,000 gathered at Hampden to see Hearts prevail 3-1. Before that, the Tynecastle men won 4-3 in 1901, before Celtic ran out 3-0 winners six years later.

Of their recent meetings in earlier rounds, Celtic hammered the hosts 4-0 to reach the last 16 in 2014 after a 7-0 win at the same stage a year later. But a last-minute goal from former Celtic striker Craig Beattie gave Hearts a 2-1 win in the 2012 semi-final.

Current form

  • Hearts have gone five games without a win, losing three in a row
  • Celtic have lost once in 14 games - away to Rangers - since being knocked out the Europa League by Valencia
  • Hearts have lost four times to Celtic since a 1-0 win at Tynecastle in August
  • Celtic beat Hearts 3-0 in their last Hampden meeting, in October's League Cup semi-final

What the managers say

Hearts manager Craig Levein: "We are going for the single single. It is just as important to us.

"We have recent history of beating Celtic and I feel that the preparation for the game, particularly the last two or three weeks, has gone extremely well, especially getting players back fit, makes me feel better.

"The proof will be in the pudding of course, but we can beat Celtic, we have proven that we have got a big occasion in us, I am certain of that."

Watch: Celtic's Tierney & McGregor interview each other

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: "Hearts are a very difficult obstacle for us to overcome, so there's no point me sitting here telling you how I'm going to feel when we win the cup.

"I'm just wary of everyone talking about treble trebles and bus parades. We've got to play the game and not the occasion. That's the message we'll be hammering into the players.

"We have a very motivated Hearts team and for some of their players it will be their first cup final. They may never get the opportunity to win it again, so they will be very hungry too."

Celtic rhythm versus Hearts physicality - analysis

Former Scotland striker Billy Dodds

Celtic have not been playing well of late but still getting results. I wouldn't say Hearts are heavy underdogs.

Hearts have caused them problems over the last couple of seasons and had a couple of good results against them.

I think Celtic will take care of Hearts, but if Hearts have a good day, they are well capable of giving Celtic problems.

Former Ross County and Plymouth Argyle manager Derek Adams

I think Craig Levein has to go for it. I think he has to start with possibly two up front with maybe three at the back and go for the jugular early in the game.

I don't think he'll have a better opportunity in a cup final to beat Celtic. Celtic's backline is not the strongest and Hearts' best chance is to get physical.

Former Celtic defender Darren O'Dea

I have played against both teams this season and they are probably the polar opposites.

Hearts are probably the most physical team I've played against in my career. I think they will go out to try to disrupt Celtic and there will be so many fouls in the game.

It is a case of whose style is going to take over. If Celtic get into a rhythm, they'll break them down and will win the game comfortably.

But, if Hearts disrupt their rhythm, they're physically so demanding that they'll cause any team problems. Uche Ikpeazu is a monster of a boy - probably the strongest I've played against.

Team news

Levein is confident striker Uche Ikpeazu and midfielders Peter Haring and Arnaud Djoum will all be fit having missed the 2-1 defeat at Celtic Park on Sunday. But Callumn Morrison, Aidan Keena, Ben Garuccio, Demetri Mitchell, Steven Naismith and Olly Lee are all out with knee injuries.

Celtic winger James Forrest and left-back Kieran Tierney are available after being rested for the last couple of games. Captain Scott Brown should also return to midfield following a foot injury, while on-loan West Bromwich Albion winger Oliver Burke is hopeful he will take some part despite a knee problem. But Ryan Christie,Jack Hendry, Vakoun Bayo, Dedryck Boyata,Craig Gordon, Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani are still out and Leigh Griffiths remains unavailable.

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This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/48318590

Emery – Why I admire Rafa Nadal

Unai Emery has a passion for tennis – and he'll have a keen eye on the progress of compatriot and reigning champion Rafael Nadal when the Spaniard returns to the clay at Roland Garros.

Our head coach likes to unwind by taking to the court and admits that he admires the mentality of Nadal, having read the world number two's autobiography.
 
"I read his book and I know some things about his history and he is work, work, work," Emery told Arsenal Player. "When he is also struggling sometimes in one match, playing for five hours in one game, tennis players have a lot of difficult moments.
 
"In the difficult moments you have to be strong in your mind to change the negative situation into a positive. Football is the same, only it's in 90 minutes and you need your teammates because it is 11 players that are playing and you need one strong mentality, but each single player being together too.
 
"I saw him live in one match and I also like to play tennis too. When I am playing tennis, I am thinking in each moment during the match that I need to be very strong in my mind to battle my opposition player. If he's better than me, with different strategies to play and fight against him too.
 
"Tennis is different from football because tennis is an individual game and an individual sport. Football is one team with 11 players and we need to do the combination and we need also where one player is not playing well another is playing well, the relation between them is very important.

"Tennis for me is a good sport because the mindset is very important. Because you need to be very strong in your mind and for the relationship with football I think it is the same. It's the idea to transmit for the players, for each single player, to take this mindset to work strongly and to have a big individual mentality.
 
"After, if you can play with 11 players with a big mentality, for example like with Rafa Nadal, you can take the best performance and results for this sport."

Copyright 2019 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.

Arsene Wenger
This news item was provided by the Arsenal FC News Feed website - the original link is: http://feeds.arsenal.com/~r/arsenal-news/~3/XOd_t3HNb0s/emery-why-i-admire-rafa-nadal

Mauricio Pochettino’s joke backfires as Real Madrid release official statement

Pochettino has four years left on his contract at Spurs

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino's apparent joke about where his team would stay in Madrid for the Champions League final appears to have backfired - and prompted Real Madrid to release an official statement.

The Argentine, who has been linked with a move to the Bernabeu in the past, was discussing Spurs' plans for the final against Liverpool at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on 1 June.

"Ahead of the final, we will train at Valdebebas [Real's training complex] and sleep in a nearby hotel," he told El Partidazo de Cope.