MEMORIES of 2015 will come flooding back when Inverness and Falkirk lock horns at Hampden again today in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
The world was a kinder and more optimistic place when Caley Thistle beat the Bairns 2-1 in the showpiece to lift the trophy for the first time.
Much has changed in the last eight years, not least with the two clubs who will battle it out for the right to face either Celtic or Rangers in the final.
Both have dropped down a division, with Caley Thistle in the second tier and Falkirk slumming it in League One.
And while the 2015 final was played out in front of almost 40,000 fans at the National Stadium, there will be vast swathes of empty seats today, the lunchtime kick-off an insult to those heading down from the Highlands.
The atmosphere will also be poorer without the manic presence of John Hughes in the dugout, although at least it means the BBC won’t need to pay for someone to put subtitles on the
The Bairns will have the bigger support but it’s Caley Thistle who are the form team after winning six of their last seven games and drawing the other.
Since beating Ayr in the quarter-finals, Falkirk have managed just two wins in eight games so that’s why McBookie make them 11/8 outsiders to reach the final with Inverness 4/7 favourites.
I thought Billy Dodds’ men would also be odds-on for a win inside 90 minutes but they are 21/20 with the same firm which looks well worth a punt on recent form.
Even though there’s a division between these teams, the gulf between their starting XIs isn’t that big.
It should be a close game so I like the 13/10 on offer at McBookie for either side to win by a one-goal winning margin.
In the goalscoring markets, Nathan Shaw looks good for Caley Thistle (21/10, William Hill) after netting four times in his last seven games.
Callumn Morrison scored from the spot in the last round for Falkirk and the former Hearts winger looks their best bet for a goal at 15/4 (William Hill).
With so much at stake we could see some tasty tackles. I can’t see a market for total cards but Coll Donaldson appeals at 21/10 (Bet365) after nine yellows and red so far this term.
While Falkirk have been forced to wait eight years for their Hampden revenge mission, Rangers are out to avenge their loss to Celtic at the National Stadium just two months ago.
That 2-1 victory in the Viaplay Cup Final was followed by a 3-2 derby win in the Premiership that effectively sealed the title for Ange Postecoglou’s men.
So it’s no surprise to see the Hoops as McBookie’s 4/6 favourites to go through, with the Ibrox side at 23/20.
The odds increase to 6/5 for a Celtic win inside 90 minutes but this one could go the distance – just like last season’s semi which Gers edged in extra-time.
Backing the match to be level after 90 minutes pays 12/5.
There was plenty of spice in the last derby and Kevin Clancy flashed six yellows.
Two of them went to Callum McGregor and Nico Raskin after a spat so it could pay to back them to fall foul of the referee again.
I was surprised when Michael Beale dropped Fashion Sakala for the last derby as his pace has caused plenty of problems.
The Zambian should start at Hampden, either up top or on the right flank. He’s 7/2 for a goal at SkyBet but might be better for an assist once that market is priced up.
The best action down south comes tomorrow as Manchester City look to take another step towards the title with a win over Fulham. I fancy a City win to nil at 11/10 with BetVictor.
- Inverness win in 90 mins (21/20 McBookie)
Donaldson card (21/10, Bet365)
McGregor card (12/5, B’Victor)