I don’t know anyone who was confident Olivier Ntcham would score with his penalty against St Mirren earlier this month. Our stats have been awful this season. Ryan Christie scored his only attempt in a comfortable win over Hearts. Moussa Dembele also scored his solitary attempt, against Alashkert, but Olivier and Scott Sinclair have each missed two, while Leigh Griffiths missed against Motherwell. Seven out of 12 have been converted.
Those of you who are old enough to remember the last time Celtic did not win a domestic trophy will recall we went out of that particular Scottish Cup semi-final on penalties.
If you were Derek McInnes, you would have spent all week planning for this eventuality. Hopefully, the point is not lost on Neil Lennon. Celtic will take the game to Aberdeen, but if the tie is level in the latter stages of the initial 90 minute period, Aberdeen will sit every-deeper and play for penalties – which they will have a decent chance to win.
That reversal in the 2016 Scottish Cup semi-final aside, Celtic have only exited a cup tournament since Neil Lennon’s first tenure as manager after being reduced to 10 men. Efe Ambrose conceded a penalty and was sent off in the 2016 League Cup semi-final against Ross County, and Craig Gordon was sent off in the 2016 Scottish Cup semi-final against Inverness. The latter remains an infamous refereeing performance for the failure to award a penalty and red card Inverness’s Josh Meekings for punching a goal-bound header off the line.
Objectively, if Celtic are going to be stopped from collecting a treble treble, it is most likely to happen on Sunday, as a result of either a red card or a penalty kick competition. We can plan for both.
Expect Aberdeen to wind up whomever they think is vulnerable to some referee attention – I’m looking at you, Scott. The script has been written on this one. Do not get drawn in, play the game on our terms, if anyone loses composure, let it be their daft full back (again).
None of us have confidence in our penalty takers, but practice helps (despite luddite beliefs). Training will be light tomorrow. It should consist exclusively of penalty kick practice.