Derek McInnes urges Aberdeen to strike first in Scottish Cup semi-final

Derek McInnes will order Aberdeen to start fast and plant the seed of doubt in the minds of Celtic’s treble treble chasers on Sunday.

The Pittodrie boss knows the Parkhead outfit are under huge pressure to deliver an unprecedented third-straight domestic clean sweep as they gear up for the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final showdown.

The squad – built by Brendan Rodgers and now managed by Neil Lennon – have become accustomed to lifting silverware over the previous two-and-a-half glory-filled years.

But in the six showpiece clashes they have played at Hampden and Murrayfield during that period, the all-conquering Hoops have spent a grand total of two minutes trailing their opposition.

That came in the final game of Rodgers’ debut campaign when Jonny Hayes’ early opener for the Reds was immediately cancelled out by Stuart Armstrong.

Tom Rogic then grabbed a dramatic late winner to complete a remarkable undefeated season and part one of their treble treble quest.

Since then, Celtic have had it all their own way.

But McInnes now wants to see his team to grab the initiative early at Hampden and see whether Lennon’s crop can handle the strain of chasing their place in the history books.

He said: “I always feel that in these types of games that it’s important that you show confidence, let the opposition know that we’re here and get in their face.

“We’re not going to Hampden just to make the fixture up, we’re here to take part.

“An Aberdeen team should always be hard working and motivated and should certainly have the confidence and ability to play.

“Hopefully that can be the case.

“During the 4-3 game here at Pittodrie in December, we were always chasing and you have to manage that as you don’t want to make the game too open too quickly as they have players who can hurt you when there’s loads of space to work.

“So if you can strike first and get yourselves in front, I think then – and only then – would some sort of pressure come into the Celtic team’s minds about failure and not delivering that treble treble.

“There will be huge expectation on their team to deliver that and, while they are favourites to do it, we need to make sure at some point in the game they are thinking that might not be the case.”

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