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Scottish Premiership Preview: The Battle for Europe

 

With Celtic almost certainties to win the league and be Scotland’s sole representatives in the Champions League: the struggle for Europa League football and title of “best of the rest” is a huge focus for the fans of the newly branded Scottish Premiership. Scottish teams have had mixed fortunes in this competition over the last few seasons. Last year, Hearts were only minutes away from forcing extra time against Liverpool; whereas, Hibernian have embarrassed themselves, and Scottish football, after their 9-0 aggregate loss to Malmo – the heaviest defeat ever inflicted on a Scottish team in Europe. 

The teams finishing second and third in Scotland get the chance in the Europa League qualifiers with a third qualifying through the Scottish Cup. The allure of European football is obvious to understand with the financial benefits as well as the chance to play some of the biggest teams in Europe. Most… Continue reading →

Scottish Premiership Preview: Relegation

 

The top division of Scottish football includes a slightly altered format. As always the team finishing twelfth will be relegated to the Championship but a new play-off has been introduced. The team in eleventh will go into a play-off with the teams second, third and fourth in the division below. This should make both the top and second tier of Scottish football more exciting and give teams something to play for throughout. 

Hearts start the season on -15 points but their young squad will be motivated from the opening day meaning that, especially with the new play-off, there are several teams that will be anxiously looking down over their shoulders. 

Hibernian already started their season with a shameful 9-0 aggregate defeat in the Europa League qualifiers, a competition they qualified for through the Scottish Cup. This means manager Pat Fenlon is already under pressure after being humiliated in two successive cup finals by Celtic… Continue reading →

Scottish Premiership Preview: Administration stricken Hearts

 

Financial problems at Hearts have had a destructive effect over the summer with the club in administration. This has resulted in a 15 point deduction and a transfer embargo meaning they are favourites to be relegated to the Scottish Championship. While the deficit is not insurmountable it will be very challenging for Hearts to avoid relegation.  

With a local derby against Hibs this weekend the 2012 Scottish Cup winners are now able to focus on issues on the field after a troublesome off-season where staff were made redundant; players accepted pay cuts and fans have pumped thousands to keep the club alive. Manager Gary Locke is only 6 months into the job but has a near impossible job on his hands. The playing squad is extremely thin and inexperienced with just three players above the age of 22. There are, however, some very talented players in the squad:… Continue reading →

Scottish Premiership Preview: Celtic

 

A new season in the Scottish top flight started this weekend in the recently branded Scottish Premiership. This is the new name for the top-tier in the “SPFL” (Scottish Professional Football League).

Celtic are the reigning champions and are rather unsurprisingly favourites to retain their title. Last year they had a successful and rewarding season despite the absence of rivals Rangers who are currently in Scottish League One. The team from Glasgow won the double and impressed many with their performances in the Champions League, reaching the last 16 and even defeating the mighty Barcelona in the group stages.

The mandate for this season will be similar – win the double, reach the knockout stages of the Champions League but to add the League Cup. This, however, will be slightly more challenging for Celtic as they have lost two star players – Victor Wanyama to Southampton and Gary Hooper… Continue reading →

Lennon Coy On Finnbogason

Celtic supremo Neil Lennon refuses to confirm an interest in the signing of Heerenveen forward Alfred Finnbogason, in spite of heightening speculation surrounding the player’s future plans.

The Glasgow giants are desperate to add firepower to their forward line following the sale of primary danger-man Gary Hooper to Norwich City this summer.

Losing a goalscorer of Hooper’s calibre is a huge blow and due to the club’s efforts to reach the Champions League group stages once again, Lennon is fully aware of the urgent requirement to replace a man who banged in a remarkable 82 goals from 138 appearances in all competitions for the Hoops.

Reports suggest 24-year-old Finnbogason is at the very top of Lennon’s shopping list after he managed 28 strikes for Heerenveen last season. The Icelandic international appears ready-made for Celtic, but only if the price is right; the club won’t be too keen to shell-out more… Continue reading →

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