Craig Levein saw his Hearts side play well in the Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle last week, but ultimately come away from the game with nothing, but he is looking to the upcoming Scottish Cup Semi-Final to provide the perfect pick-me-up for his team.
With their chances of snatching a European spot via the league receding, the Cup offers them their best chance of continental action next season — albeit in the early qualifying rounds.
Levein admitted the derby defeat was a “difficult one to take” having seen his side perform well, but is determined to use it as “motivation” for the Semi-Final on Saturday.
He told the Edinburgh News: “Playing well and losing is the thing I hate the most. If we play poorly and lose, you have to take that on the chin. Playing well and losing is a really difficult one to take.
“It’s done now. If we didn’t have the semi-final next week then it’s a different conversation [with the players]. This game is done, finished. The important thing now is that we don’t allow any negativity to dwell in our heads.
“We will take the good things out of Saturday’s game and use them as motivation for this coming Saturday when we go to Hampden. The positives we had were plenty of effort, lots of good passages of play, good performances and chances created.”
The Cup must now be the top priority for Hearts, and if they can see off Inverness, and Celtic beat Aberdeen in the other Semi-Final on Sunday, then Levein’s side will know the Europa League awaits, due to the Glasgow sides Champion’s League ticket that will accompany their imminent title win.
Of course, all the ‘what ifs’ will be irrelevant if Hearts just do what they need to, and win the Cup outright.
Any thoughts of the derby should have been swept aside by now, particularly as they have so much on the line this weekend.
The main worry for Levein will be their sudden slump of two consecutive defeats. But — with all due respect to Cally Thistle — games at Rangers and against your local rival, always looked more difficult on paper.
It will be a fantastic atmosphere on Saturday, and both the Hearts fans and players will be looking forward to their big day out, but none of them must let it distract them from the important task at hand.
Nothing less than a win, and the place in the final that comes with it, will do for the Jambos this weekend.
What do you think of your chances in Saturday’s semi-final Hearts fans? Are you excited for the day out, or nervous about slipping up? Let us know your thoughts below…
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