Pittodrie legend Alex McLeish believes Aberdeen’s attacking young guns can shoot down Celtic at Hampden.
The Dons face holders Celtic in the 2019-2020 season’s Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday.
Gothenburg Great McLeish, 61, was impressed with the threat of Aberdeen’s young attack in the 3-3 league draw with Celtic at the weekend.
He reckons Dons boss Derek McInnes should unleash the young guns against a vulnerable Celtic defence at the national stadium.
McLeish said: “Derek has unleashed the young kids in the front areas and they are certainly playing with no fear.
“On top of that he has an organised midfield, the nucleus of the team is there and they always defend very well. The kids have excited me in those midfield to forward areas.”
Chasing a 12th consecutive domestic trophy and a quadruple treble, Celtic’s defence has leaked eight goals in three games.
McLeish believes that can be exploited by the Reds’ young attack to inflict an “absolute disaster” on the cup holders.
He said: “Celtic have had problems with the rhythm of their team being disrupted by the loss off four of five players.
“That’s left their defence looking a wee bit shaky. You don’t normally see them making those kind of mistakes.
“Kristoffer Ajer didn’t get close to Sam Cosgrove at Ryan Hedges’ goal and that looks to me like a confidence issue.
“These players are only human and sometimes confidence goes, although normally, for the top teams, you get that back fairly quickly.
“You need to learn how to do that when you’re playing at the highest level and Celtic are expected to win every single week.
“It’s not often they go on a run of defeats and that’s two of the last three they’ve lost now.
“With the semi-final on Sunday, it would be an absolute disaster if they lost again there.”
Aberdeen were leading Celtic 2-1 at the weekend with 15 minutes left but were then confronted with the prospect of a damaging loss after conceding two quickfire goals.
However, they salvaged a draw with an injury-time penalty equaliser from Lewis Ferguson.
For McLeish, the psychological lift of that late leveller can prove pivotal.
McLeish said: “Sunday’s performance will have given them a lot more belief when they go to Hampden.
“Derek had to make changes with injuries and with people getting tired so (Scott) Brown asserted his influence again in that last 15 minutes. That quite often happens with the Old Firm.
“But Aberdeen scored the late goal and I know it was only to get a draw but it will empower them quite significantly.”
During an illustrious career with Aberdeen, McLeish won three league titles, five Scottish Cups and two League Cups domestically. On the continental stage he lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup in 1983.
He knows what it takes to win trophies. McInnes, so far, has only one trophy during his time at Pittodrie – the 2014 League Cup. However, McLeish has seen a revival in fortunes that could see McInnes add more silverware.
He said: “Derek has stood the test of time and turned down other managerial offers. He has been loyal to Aberdeen.
“Sometimes you can get a bit stale but this season it looks like there is a new breath of fresh air in there. That is great credit to him.
“You have to say he has done a fantastic job.”
McLeish is the last Aberdeen captain to win the Scottish Cup and raised the trophy following a 9-8 penalty shootout defeat of Celtic in 1990.
He said: “My outstanding memory of that final was my penalty kick. It was a bit of a drab game and I couldn’t say who deserved to win.
“When it was still 4-4 after five penalties Jocky (Scott) asked who was taking the sixth. I couldn’t hear any volunteers, so as captain I put my hand up and said I would take it.
“Jocky said: ‘Aye but do you think you’ll score?’ I said: ‘I don’t know, but I don’t see any volunteers so I’m taking it.’
“I went on the march from the halfway line and I thought if I pass it hard enough to Pat Bonner’s left it would go in even if he guesses the right way. Thankfully it worked.
“Then we had to endure another five or six penalties until Theo Snelders made a fantastic save from Anton Rogan and Brian Irvine stuck away the winning kick.”