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'Two huge factors in Celtic's favour for Hampden showdown'

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[BBC]

The number one target for Celtic in any given season is to end the campaign as champions of Scotland.

And the team achieved that goal with room to spare with wins over Kilmarnock and St Mirren in the last week ensuring a third successive title would be heading back to Celtic Park.

But if you think this group of players are happy to settle for just the one piece of silverware this season then you haven’t been paying enough attention.

Marshalled by serial winner Callum McGregor, there’s a steely determination about Brendan Rodgers’ side, and you get the distinct feeling they won’t be fully satisfied until they add this season’s Scottish Cup to their trophy haul.

In their quest to do so there’s two huge factors firmly in Celtic’s favour when it comes to Saturday’s clash with Rangers.

The first is experience. Look at the starting XI who clinched the title against Kilmarnock last Wednesday night and you’ll see no less than seven players who started the final at Hampden less than 12 months ago.

That big-game know-how is vital and will ensure no nerves on the day as the majority of the group return to a stadium where they’ve enjoyed notable success over the last two seasons.

Of the players likely to be in the XI on Saturday, only Liam Scales has yet to start a Hampden final for Celtic, with an abundance of appearances – and winner’s medals – spread out through the rest of the team.

The second item in Celtic’s favour is form, with the class of 2023-24 powering their way to the title courtesy of five wins across their five post-split fixtures, scoring 15 goals in the process.

Notching an average of three goals per game should be of significant concern to a Rangers side who have conceded nine in their own five post-split fixtures as Philippe Clement’s side continue to display a new-found fragility in defence.

They’ve picked the worst possible time of the season to do so.

While in any cup final it’s prudent to expect the unexpected, momentum is a huge factor in football, and should the Hoops find anything like the rhythm they’ve shown in recent weeks then we could be in for another momentous day at Hampden.

With Celtic guided by Rodgers, who boasts an incredible record in this fixture, there’s several reasons for optimism for those of us of a green and white persuasion.

Tino can be found at The Celtic Exchange

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[BBC]