The key talking points ahead of the Scottish Cup final

St Johnstone and Hibernian face each other in the Scottish Cup final on Saturday.

Both teams have already enjoyed impressive seasons: Saints have won the Betfred Cup and sealed a European spot through the league, while Hibs secured a third-placed finish for the first time in 16 years and reached the League Cup semi-finals.

Here are five talking points ahead of the Hampden showpiece.

Callum Davidson on verge of history

The Saints boss is on the cusp of a cup double in his first season in management. Only four other managers outside of Celtic and Rangers have done a double in Scotland. Tommy Walker led Hearts to a league and League Cup double in 1960 and Sir Alex Ferguson delivered multiple trophies on several occasions with Aberdeen, including a league and cup double in 1984, as well as European Super Cup success, and both domestic cups in the 1985/6 campaign. Co-managers Alex Smith and Jocky Scott led the Dons to double cup success in 1990.

European prize

Both teams have guaranteed European football through the league but Scottish Cup success offers entry to the more prestigious Europa League rather than the new Europa Conference League. Up until recently, it was set to offer guaranteed group stage football but the cup winners now might go in at the third qualifying round rather than the play-offs, depending on developments elsewhere.

Empty stands

Despite crowds returning in the play-offs, Hampden will again be empty. Plans for a 600 crowd were shelved when Glasgow’s route out of lockdown was delayed and it was too short notice to switch venues. The development means both sets of fans will have missed four trips to Hampden this season.

Covid crisis

The pandemic has had another impact on the build-up after Saints suffered an outbreak which has thrown Davidson’s team selection up in the air. Eight players were affected in all, although two of them returned for the final league game. Others only returned to training in midweek and Davidson faces some tough decisions on whether to risk them.

Chance to shine

There could be suitors watching closely, with Hibs in particular including some in-demand players. Watford were linked with a move for Josh Doig this week, while Millwall bid for Ryan Porteous in January and Kevin Nisbet was denied a move to Birmingham. Revelations about the buy-out fee in Martin Boyle’s contract could spark interest in the in-form winger. Saints also have some prized assets including midfielder Ali McCann and their young back-line, while striker Guy Melamed is nearing the end of his contract.

Saints on a roll

The Perth side have won the last three meetings between the teams, including a Betfred Cup semi-final. Hibs started the better side on the last occasion the teams met at Hampden but Saints scored from two set-pieces and went on to record an ultimately comfortable 3-0 triumph.

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