Neither Hibernian nor Hearts warmed up particularly well for the mouth watering Scottish Cup final showdown, both suffering defeats without scoring at the weekend but as the pair will undoubtedly have had an eye on this clash, those results will mean very little as the sides line-up at Hampden Park.
League positions however, do have a bearing according to bookmakers, fifth-placed Hearts considered 4/7 favourites to lift the trophy by Boylesports while the Hibees are 5/4 courtesy of Stan James to end a disappointing campaign, in which they finished eleventh, on a high by capturing some silverware.
Paulo Sergio’s men are also given the nod in the 90-minutes market, Paddy Power pricing the Jambos at 5/4 to overcome BetVictor’s 27/10 outsiders in normal time but given that it’s a cup final with the added spice of also being a derby encounter, neutrals in particular are likely to be keen on a stalemate, available with Skybet at 12/5.
It follows that Betfred’s 11/2 posted against a 1-1 scoreline is bound to attract cash, Coral quote 3/1 for any score draw and punters expecting the teams to be inseparable after 120 minutes can back both sides at 10/1 via William Hill to prevail via the drama of penalties.
Referee Craig Thomson meanwhile is 9/4 (Paddy Power) to give fans a taster of a shootout by pointing to the spot during normal time and given the likelihood that this will be a frenetic and passionate affair, that isn’t out of the question.
Statisticians will note that Hearts have enjoyed the upper hand in recent derby meetings, winning all three this term and going ten matches without defeat against their neighbours. Ladbrokes offer odds of 3/1 for the Jambos to continue their period of dominance over their rivals by racking up a victory by a one-goal margin and more specifically, in a tussle that is odds-on at 8/11 (Coral) to produce fewer than three goals, a wager that would’ve been successful in four of the last six derbies, it’s 13/2 via Coral for Hearts to nick it 1-0.
In attack, William Hill’s 13/2, marked against a Rudi Skacel opener isn’t without appeal and with two goals against the Hibees already this season, defender Andy Webster is a lively outsider at 28/1 with bet365 to notch first. At the other end, Ladbrokes price Garry O’Connor at 8/1 to break the deadlock.