Every which way I look at this Scottish Cup final, I keep coming back to the same winner: Hibernian FC. Jack Ross' men seem like they've got the bit between their teeth and, buoyed by finishing third and a full compliment of players to choose from, they arrive at Hampden as worthy favourites.
St Johnstone are an awkward opponent for Hibs, but with their preparations hampered by Covid and more pressure on them given the opportunity to do a 'cup double', this is a hard ask for them.
Saints really have to score first and then frustrate Hibs as they've done three times this term. If the Hibees break the deadlock, it's a long way back for St Johnstone. I just don't think the Perth side will keep Nisbet, Boyle and Doidge quiet for a full 90 minutes.
My money's on the trophy having green-and-white ribbons on it.
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There are a lot of similarities between this final and 2016. Back then, Hibs had lost the League Cup final and were beaten in the play-offs by Falkirk.
This time around they've been beaten by both Hearts and St Johnstone in Hampden semi-finals. It was third time lucky five years ago and I have a wee feeling it could be third time lucky again.
There will be plenty of pressure on both teams for differing reasons - the Saints are within touching distance of an historic cup double while Hibs still have a point to prove in big matches.
My gut feeling is that, having come this close to meeting their targets this season after a campaign like no other, Hibs won't let the chance slip away.
It would be typical that, after a 114-year wait for Scottish Cup glory, they go on and lift it for the second time in five years. I think it'll be a tight game but Hibs will prevail.
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It will be an epic story whoever wins, and this thought might weigh heavily on both sides. Can we expect a classic? Without fans, perhaps not. The St Johnstone back five, including wing backs, are worth their weight in gold and even though Christian Doidge and Kevin Nisbet, along with flying winger Martin Boyle, are currently on form, they may have their work cut out to pierce the opposition defence.
St Johnstone’s hopes are based on the success or otherwise of this department. Clearly, their interrupted countdown will have had some impact and it remains to be seen what effect the Covid-19 outbreak of last week will have on manager Callum Davidson’s team selection. Hibs have had a smoother time of it as they aim to complete their most successful season in over half a century.
It will be very tight in my opinion. But mine’s a double – a cup double for St Johnstone.
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There’s a lot to be said for muscle memory - but maybe not enough on this occasion.
St Johnstone know Hampden as a winning venue - three times in just four months - not to mention beating Hibs on as many occasions when the sides have met this season too. But Jack Ross’ side erased their recent Hampden woes fairly emphatically against Dundee United in the semi-final - and seem to have gained momentum from it.
The Covid uncertainties around Callum Davidson’s squad throw things up in the air a little more and while both have solid defences, Hibs are a much more potent attacking threat with Nisbet, Boyle and Doidge.
Glenn Middleton could be useful for the Saints alongside Ali McCann’s industry but that power at Hibs’ disposal will possibly edge it in their favour and redress the balance over the season. And quite possibly after extra-time too.
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I expect a tense final given what is at stake for each club - both in terms of capping off a historic campaign and potentially setting themselves up for an extended European run next season. Chances like this - with Rangers and Celtic out of the equation - don't come along often and both will feel it is their trophy to win.
St Johnstone's covid issues have affected their preparations but Callum Davidson has his side well-drilled and, with a momentous couple double up for grabs, they will not be looking for any excuses.
Hibs have had their difficulties against Saints this season, losing home and away in the league on top of the League Cup semi-final defeat. But Jack Ross' side have answered some big questions in recent weeks - winning at Pittodrie to clinch third place and getting over their semi-final hurdle in fairly convincing manner.
They have the stronger of two squads, momentum is with them, and with their front men all in good scoring form, I think they'll edge it.
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There just seems to be a direction of travel with these two teams, terrific finalists that have pushed to their very limits in their season returns.
It all seems to be fitting into place for Hibs on the pitch, whatever the concerns over asset stripping to come. In contrast, the Covid shadow over St Johnstone seems to have dulled their lustre. The Perth side haven't come within one game of a remarkable cup double without being hardy though.
However, the merry dance of Jack Ross's forwards against opponents that have hardly trained in the build-up, should shatter the glass slipper for Callum Davidson and his players in their Cinderella story.
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