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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Superior Celtic look set to celebrate treble glory

Celtic have had reason to celebrate this year
1 of 1

Celtic v Aberdeen
BBC1 Scotland, Sky Sports 1 & Sky Sports 5, 3pm Saturday  

Celtic look set to complete the treble against a luckless Aberdeen side who are poised to be runners-up in all three competitions.

Brendan Rodgers' first season at Celtic has been the stuff of dreams. His Invincibles were unbeaten in the league and are likely to prove too good for the spirited Dons in the William Hill Scottish Cup final.

The stats make truly grim reading for the 20,000 Aberdeen fans travelling to Hampden as five meetings with Celtic this season have seen them lose every time with an aggregate score of 12-2.

It's not as if manager Derek McInnes has set up his side predictably, but that's just it - he has tried everything and nothing has worked.

He tried to sit back against Celtic in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final, which was a disaster as Celtic cruised to a bloodless 3-0 win without Aberdeen laying a glove on them.

He has tried the direct, long-ball route and although they actually outplayed Celtic for the majority of their last meeting, they were 3-0 down in 11 minutes, which put paid to their chances of gaining a positive result.

Aberdeen have tried to have a go, but Celtic love that because they are frightening on the counter-attack.

It looks likely that McInnes will try to push new captain Graeme Shinnie higher up the pitch to press Celtic midfielders Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong into mistakes, but that is a big ask.

Aberdeen need wingers Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn to bring their A-game to Hampden, but that has been lacking in big occasions.

The Dons also need a huge performance by a defence, led by Ash Taylor, who give Aberdeen supporters plenty of scary moments.

Aberdeen will surely be more aggressive and offensive this time. Expect them to put up a much bigger fight than the last cup final - they will be disappointed if they don't at least score.

But they have never even led against the champions this season and that stat, along with the five defeats, must be in their head.

Their build-up has been overshadowed by Rangers-bound Ryan Jack being stripped of the captaincy, but he's no loss to Aberdeen as they play better without him.

Plenty has already been written about Celtic's qualities this season. In Scott Sinclair, they have the best player north of the border by a mile.

Brown and Armstrong dominate midfield and Callum McGregor has been terrific recently. On-loan Manchester City forward Patrick Roberts opted out of the Under-20 World Cup to play in this game and on his day he can be unplayable.

Realistically, it would take nine or more of the Celtic team to have an off-day and the Pittodrie side to perform like it's 1983, when they were beating Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, to see Shinnie lift the trophy.

Aberdeen may give Celtic a scare, but it's impossible to back against anything other than Rodgers ending an incredible season with more glory.

Recommendations
Celtic
3pts 8-15 Ladbrokes, Betway, Betfair
Celtic to win and both teams to score
1pt 21-10 Hills, Bet365
Aberdeen to score before the 77th minute
2pts 5-6 bet365

Bet on this match at Soccerbase.com


Team news
Celtic
The Bhoys are hoping to have Moussa Dembele fit enough to make a substitute appearance.

Aberdeen
The Dons will be without on-loan Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie.

Key stat
Aberdeen haven't kept a clean sheet in the last 37 meetings between the teams in all competitions.

Aberdeen have tried to have a go, but Celtic love that because they are frightening on the counter-attack
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