Barca style to continue
Inverness get the chance to exact some revenge over Aberdeen after their League Cup final defeat at Parkhead some five weeks ago, and Yogi will persevere with his Barcelona dream in his quest for total football and world domination.
It's the first of five final games to be played in the top-six as the I's are dotted and the T's crossed to end the season and with it the formalities of who plays in Europe next season.
Aberdeen are in pole position for the first European spot although Motherwell lurk only three points behind them. Dundee United have a couple of options as have St Johnstone as they battle it out in the Scottish Cup final, with United also trying to close the gap on Motherwell for third place. That leaves Inverness with only one option. Keep winning our last five games and see if we can usurp any of the teams above us. A long shot, being eight points behind Well, but if you don't have hope, then you have nothing left to play for.
In all honesty, there is not a lot to choose between any of the top six clubs, with seventh placed Hibernian the nearest a massive 14 points behind the Perth club. Celtic, of course are in a league of their own having retained the title. Surprise surprise.
Inverness won the final Highland derby of the season beating Ross County 2-1 in Dingwall, Yogi's second win there this season. Aaron Doran firing home a superb opening goal and Billy McKay scoring a typical McKay strikers goal after Kiss had breathed some life into the Dingwall outfit. Despite a dismal refereeing performance by Calum Murray, Inverness were worthy winners and that set us up nicely for the final five games.
Aberdeen ended a run of three League draws when they easily disposed of Butcher's hapless Hibees with a 2-0 win at Easter Road, showing the gulf between the two mini divisions within the Premiership. They did however miss out on a second cup final when St Johnstone knocked them out of the Scottish Cup after coming from behind last weekend to put the Dons fans back in their boxes for now. It would appear that the sheep are not on fire any more.
What can we expect from Yogi's team in this one?
Will he be looking ahead to next season, or will he see an opportunity to narrow the gap on those above us? After all, United are only two points above us and they play out a full dress rehearsal for their Cup final against St Johnstone at Perth. Let's face it, all of these last five games are going to be tough and with fifteen points up for grabs by all the teams then the show is not over yet. With that in mind, I expect our strongest line up to start against the Dons and that will see Ryan Christie start on the bench, but this is a lad going places and next season will be massive for him.
Inverness captain Richie Foran is out after minor surgery on his damaged knee and Graeme Shinnie is suspended. Aaron Doran started against County and has had another week to regain full fitness and will be OK for this one. Ross Draper returns after suspension and the big midfielder should go straight back into the starting X1. Carl Tremarco will fill Shinnie's boots but he needs to calm down a bit as he is fast becoming a liability with some rash challenges. That should see Christie, Polworth, Williams, Ross and Devine all making for a strong bench with Watkins and Vincent getting the nod, although Vincent will be looking over his shoulder at some of these fearless youngsters.
Aberdeen will definitely be without Jonny Hayes, injured in that League Cup final encounter. Ryan Jack is out through suspension. Peter Pawlett is a doubt and many Dons fans feel the ageing legs of Barry Robson and Willo Flood need a rest after their recent hectic schedule.
Here's what the managers have to say............
tm4tj prediction:- There is little to choose between the two sides and as Stewart Milne said after the final, it took 120 minutes and fu**ing penalties to find a winner. There won't be extra time on Friday night, but I'm not ruling out penalties, especially with Tremarco around. This has all the makings of another tough encounter as two of the meanest defences try to keep the score down. Adam Rooney, Niall McGinn, Aaron Doran and Billy McKay will be doing their utmost to break the deadlock and with both sides still looking to secure European football then there is enough at stake to make this an interesting game. I'm not sure we will see a repeat of the 4-3 fixture earlier this season, but maybe another terse game with a solitary goal being enough to win the points. Failing that, a draw seems like the next best option and maybe that's where my money will be. Scoring draw.