The Scottish Cup Final takes place at Hampden Park at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, with Inverness and Falkirk both appearing in their first ever Cup final.
History has already been made by Inverness with qualification for the Europa League via the Scottish Premiership, while Championship side Falkirk will hope to join them by creating history of their own. The winner of the Cup qualifies for Europe, but if Inverness win (as they have already qualified) the extra place will pass to the next highest team in the league rather than to Falkirk as Cup runners-up. However, European football will be far from the minds of the opposing managers and players, and Saturday will be all about the glory of lifting the Scottish Cup for the first time.
Road to the Final
Falkirk’s first involvement in the competition saw them beat bottom Championship club, Cowdenbeath, 1-0 at home with a late second half goal. The next round pitched them against a League One side in Brechin, again at home, and they duly ran out 2-1 winners. The quarter-final saw them take on fellow Championship team Queen of the South, this time away from home, but a first half goal was enough to take them through 1-0. The semi-final was against yet another Championship promotion chaser, this time in Hibs, and once again Falkirk ran out 1-0 winners. The final will be the first time in the competition they’ve faced a top flight side.
Inverness have had a much tougher route to the final, including a memorable semi-final win over Celtic. Their first match in the competition saw them draw 1-1 away at bottom Premiership side St Mirren, but they won the replay comfortably 4-0. Next came another all-Premiership tie against Partick, and two early goals saw them attain a 2-1 win away from home. The quarter-final pitched them against a Championship team in Raith Rovers, and they squeezed through 1-0 at home with a second half goal. The semi-final put them up against Celtic, but they halted the champions attempt at a treble, by running out 3-2 winners after extra-time.
Preparation for the final hasn’t been ideal for Falkirk, as they haven’t played a competitive game since the end of the Championship season on the 2nd of May. Manager Peter Houston, admitted it was far from perfect, but said his side wouldn’t use it as an excuse if they end up losing. They’ve played friendlies against ‘young Burnley and Swansea sides’, with Houston saying that was the best they could get at the time.
Inverness, on the other hand, have been involved in competitive football right up until last Sunday, when they were able to rest several players in the 5-0 defeat at Celtic, having already qualified for the Europa League.
Here are the latest odds for the match winner in 90 minutes:
Falkirk – +333 with Bet365
Draw – +525 with Betvictor
Inverness are heavy favourites, which is understandable considering the season that they’ve had, and they are worth backing to overwhelm Falkirk at Hampden.
A third place finish in the Premiership is an excellent return for Inverness, and they will look forward to their first experience of European football next season. From a realistic point of view, however, they are unlikely to win the Europa League, nor are they likely to compete with Celtic at the top of the table anytime soon, so this Cup represents their best chance of actually lifting some silverware to have something to show for that excellent season. They’re in pretty good form, having won the previous three games before the Celtic defeat, which is easily excusable as they rested players.
Falkirk finished 5th in the Championship, but were a full seven points behind Queen of the South who secured the last play-off spot. They’ve lost three and drawn one of the last five games, with the only victory the 1-0 win over Hibs in this competition. Interestingly, Falkirk have won the last three meetings against Inverness, but they haven’t met since 2009, and the clubs have been on very different trajectories since then.
Inverness manager, John Hughes, has seen a steady rise in attendances as his team have gradually improved over the last few years, and wants to build on that success by taking the trophy on Saturday. Despite reaching the League Cup final and finishing in the top six last season, then reaching this final and qualifying for Europe this season, Hughes says he is most proud of the way his side have achieved those things by playing a passing, entertaining brand of football. His side can be expected to come out of the blocks quickly, and with Falkirk’s lack of match sharpness potentially playing a part, the half time/full time result could also be of interest.
Inverness Half Time/Full Time – +150 with Betvictor
Inverness are a much better price to be winning at half time and full time than they are to win the match outright, and this looks a good option for a decent side bet. Inverness will use their passing game to dominate the ball, and Falkirk’s players could spend a lot of the match chasing the ball and closing players down. It’s been nearly a month since their last competitive action, and they are bound to be a little rusty. Inverness will be all too aware of this, and will aim to come out firing and get on top early.
Whatever happens on Saturday afternoon, history will be created as one of these sides will lift the Scottish Cup for the first time. Inverness are worth following to cap off a marvelous season, while it may prove to be a step too far for Falkirk. They’ve yet to face a Premiership side in the competition, and with the lack of match fitness against them, it’s a big ask for them to overcome Inverness.
To win the Scottish Cup Final, Saturday 30th May, 3pm
Half Time/Full Time Result:
Inverness Half Time/Full Time – +150 with Betvictor
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