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Celtic aim to avoid repeat semi-final shock

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 106

Pin Celtics Kris Commons (L) and Tom Rogic celebrate after scoring a goal during an UEFA Europa League match in Istanbul, in December 2015
Celtics Kris Commons (L) and Tom Rogic celebrate after scoring a goal during an UEFA Europa League match in Istanbul, in December 2015

Celtic aim to avoid repeat semi-final shock

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 106

Celtic and Ross County clash at Hampden on Sunday for a place in the League Cup final with the Glasgow giants hoping to avoid another shock semi-final defeat at the hands of the Highland side.

In 2010 County, who were a Championship side at the time, upset the Hoops 2-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final in the early days of Neil Lennon's reign at Celtic Park.

However, Celtic have been in impressive form in recent weeks, bagging 19 goals in five games in January as they pursue a domestic treble.

Ronny Deila's side lead the Scottish Premiership by six points but the Celtic manager said his players will need to maintain their current good form if they are to book a place in March's final.

"We're really looking forward to Sunday and it’s going to be a great game," Deila said.

"A semi-final is where you start to get close to touching the trophy.

"We have taken some steps lately and have got some rest and there's a lot of energy in the boys but nothing comes by itself. You need to keep on working, know why you're good and repeat it.

"That's going to be important on Sunday as well but if we keep the tempo and intensity from the last games we know we can beat anybody.

"I think this is the best form of the season. We had some good games at the start but now, lately we have done it over several games so that's very good."

County manager Jim McIntyre knows he is facing a Celtic side in top form. However, he says there is belief in his side, who currently occupy fourth spot in the top flight, that they can pull off a surprise at the national stadium.

"You've got to believe going into any game you have a chance of winning it," McIntyre said.

"We know we're facing a team playing with real confidence. We're going to have to bring a level of performance that's right up there.

"I know we're capable on our day of beating any team."

- 'Treble talk' -

Saturday's semi-final will see Championship side Hibernian face St Johnstone, who sit fifth in the Scottish Premiership.

Despite being separated by a division, St Johnstone's David Wotherspoon says Hibs will be under more pressure in the match at Tynecastle.

"They are talking about a treble," Wotherspoon said.

"They're still in the Scottish Cup, they're in the League Cup semis and second in the Championship, so I feel the pressure is on them."

However, Hibs manager Alan Stubbs is unconcerned at his side, who will be backed by 12,000 supporters at the home of their Edinburgh rivals, being labelled favourites for the tie.

"It's irrelevant, to be honest. I am not going to get involved in that," Stubbs said.

"If someone thinks we are favourites, fine. But it does not make a big of difference as we approach the game with the mindset we are going into a very difficult match.

"We are facing a team that's played in Europe the last three or four seasons, one that’s won the Scottish Cup and has consistently finished in the top six of the Premiership. Put all that in the mix and then you know you are in for a very tough game."

Fixtures (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated)

Saturday

Hibernian v St Johnstone

Sunday

Ross County v Celtic

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