Inverness Caledonian Thistle have been the surprise package in the SPL so far this season and, in November, they peaked by beating Celtic at Celtic Park for the first time in Scottish Premier League history.
That win was the beginning of a sensational run for Terry Butcher’s men, who didn’t lose another match in any competition for 11 games as they soared into second place in the table and gave themselves a genuine chance of qualifying for Europe for the first time ever.
But since Butcher turned down the Barnsley job during the winter break, Inverness’ fortunes have taken a turn for the worse.
Although they beat Aberdeen 3-0 in their first match back, they have since been knocked out of the League Cup on penalties by ten-man Hearts and then lost back-to-back matches, against Kilmarnock and St Mirren, for the first time in the whole campaign.
On Saturday, they host a Celtic side who will be hell-bent on avenging November’s defeat but might also struggle to focus all their attention on the matter in hand, with Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Juventus just a matter of days away.
Much will depend, then, on Neil Lennon’s ability to motivate his side with the spectre of Europe looming over them – something the Northern Irishman has struggled to achieve so far this season.
The Hoops have failed to win on every occasion this campaign when they faced a home Champions League match the following week.
They lost to St Johnstone before they played Benfica, drew with Dundee United before taking on Barcelona and were held by lowly Arbroath in the Scottish Cup as they geared up for the crunch tie with Spartak Moscow.
So, as they prepare to welcome Juve to Celtic Park, Inverness will smell an opportunity to earn their first ever league double over the champions.
The Highlanders are available at a very tempting 9/2 to take all three points, while an away win for the visitors is on offer at 53/100.
But with ICT struggling and Celtic having bigger fish to fry, a draw at odds of 11/4 looks like a great shout.
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