Scottish Cup Semi Finals: Aberdeen vs Celtic

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The Scottish Cup semi-final is upon us as we reach the business end of the season for teams at the top of the SPFL. With no Scottish teams left in the Champions League, Europa League, or Conference League, attention turns full to domestic responsibilities, as reigning Scottish Cup champions Celtic gear up for a return to Hampden Park against Aberdeen, knowing that a Glasgow final awaits should the club from Ibrox see off Hearts in the other tie.

Celtic look destined to win a third consecutive Scottish Professional Football League title, currently four points clear, but knowing their rivals still have a game in hand will mean there is added pressure on Brendan Rodgers to deliver the goods in his first campaign back at Celtic Park.

The Northern Irishman is one of the most successful managers in the club’s history. Undoubtedly, his ambitions will be to pick up where he left off after departing for the Premier League and Leicester City.

Key info:

The game is an early kick-off at the Scottish National Team stadium, starting at 12:30, the day before the game between their rivals and Hearts, so if they win it will be 24 hours until they know their opponent in the final.

Recent form:

A routine 3-0 win at home to St Mirren at the weekend ensures The Bhoys finished matchday 33 top of the table.

Beating fifth in the league is no easy feat but Celtic showed their quality in dispatching the visitors, although it took until the second half to get going. Goalless at the interval, eventually some swift attacks found the back of the net, with the Glaswegian Japanese duo of Reo Hatate and Kyogo Furuhashi on fine form to land a quick one-two combo within 15 minutes of the restart.

Adam Idah then killed the game to ensure Rodgers and co remained at the top of the table and could place full attention on the Scottish Cup.

Aberdeen on the other hand struggled to break down Dundee, failing to make use of home advantage as they suffered a goalless draw to Tony Docherty’s men, who secured a top-six finish for the first time since the 2014/15 season. The highlight of the game a 96th-minute red card from Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie for a cynical foul late in the game, having already been banned from the semi-final due to a card he picked up against Kilmarnock.

Key players:

 Celtic – Kyogo Furuhashi

Despite losing Jota to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad over the summer, Celtic are top because Furuhashi has stepped up again, supplying goals, assists, and creativity with the freedom of expression that has defined so many of Rodgers’ teams. Playing a free role as less of a traditional number 10, but more as a creator that has licence to roam and pick the passes that will unlock the defence, the Japanese international has hit double figures for goals this season, and will look to be Celtic’s main creator against Aberdeen.

Aberdeen – Bojan Miovski

If Aberdeen are to upset the odds, having not been given much of a chance in this one, with even the best new customer betting offers, they will once again need to call upon top scorer Bojan Miovski. The striker scored the opening goal back in February when the club snatched a draw against Celtic the last time these two met – a much better turnout than the 6-0 defeat the side had suffered back in Glasgow.

Miovski has 18 goals this season and has become a cult hero amongst the Pittodrie faithful since signing from MTK Budapest back in 2022. His physical presence and eye for goal will surely be a thorn in the side of the Celtic defence, but the Northern Macedonian can’t do it alone, and will need the help of his teammates if Aberdeen are to snatch a victory.

Champions Elect?

The toughest test for Celtic now is showing the mental strength needed to win at Hampden and secure a place in the final. After objects, including coins, were thrown at players at corners and upon the full time whistle at Ibrox, Rodgers called upon his side to keep showing that mentality and chose to focus on the positive aspects of his side’s recent 3-3 draw.

“The integrity of the team on the field and the staff off of it, was exemplary. That’s what we want. It’s not ideal – these situations – in the games, but our integrity on and off the pitch was superb.”

“I thought the integrity of the team – how they played and how they conducted themselves in the game was absolutely fantastic.”

“From the start of the game, we were really attack-minded. We had to go through moments of pressure and that’s when you have to dig in. We did that very, very well and came through that to look like we could win the game. I was so, so pleased. It’s the hardest place to go as a Celtic player, especially with no supporters.”

Victory against Aberdeen would also mean the chance to play Rangers again in the cup final, and look to extend their reign over their derby rivals to eight more Scottish Cup trophies.

Overall, it will be hard to stop Celtic considering the form they are in. Having lost just three games all season, you wouldn’t put it past Rodgers to add more silverware to his cabinet and go the whole way in the tournament, but the magic of the cup in recent years has shown that an outsider can go the distance and pull off an upset given the right occasion.

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