Thursday 10 October: 8pm KO
Live on Sky Sports
Scotland have had a fairly miserable Euro 2020 qualifying campaign so far. However, it could still have a happy ending as will soon be explained. They only have San Marino below them in Group I and face a difficult task on Thursday as they travel to second-placed Russia.
Scotland have played six games in Euro 2020 Qualifying group I. They come into this game nine points behind second-placed Russia and there is little chance of them making it into the top two automatic qualifying positions.
It looks a bleak situation with the Scottish side having only beaten San Marino and Cyprus in their six matches. There have certainly been some low points with a 3-0 defeat at Kazakhstan in their opening match. Conceding seven goals in two games against group leaders Belgium hasn’t helped their already fragile confidence.
Even their two group wins weren’t exactly convincing. Just days after the loss in Kazakhstan, they only won 2-0 away at San Marino. That was the end of the reign of Alex McLeish as manager of Scotland. He was replaced by Steve Clarke but results haven’t shown a great deal of improvement.
They beat Cyprus 2-1 at home but needed an 89th minute winner to do so. That gave them two wins from their first three qualifiers but all their games had been against the weakest sides in the group. Three games against Belgium and Russia have all ended in defeat leaving them in fifth place in the group. The home game against Russia saw them take a 11th minute lead. Russia fought back to get all three points with their winner being an own goal by Stephen O’Donnell. It’s 6/1 (7.0) at Paddy Power that Scotland can get a win in this match.
But still Scotland could qualify for the finals. Remember the UEFA Nations League held last season? Scotland finished top of their group ahead of Albania and Israel and that means they will have a place in the play-offs.
Russia are in second place and eight points clear of Kazakhstan in third place with four games remaining. They are three points behind group leaders, the Netherlands and can be backed at 8/1 (9.0) at Ladbrokes to win the group. The Russians still have to play Belgium at home but lost the reverse fixture 3-1. They are 8/15 (1.52) at Coral to get a win against Scotland.
That loss to the Netherlands is the only game they haven’t won in this group. They didn’t struggle against San Marino as Scotland did. Russia beat them 9-0 with Arytom Dzyuba scoring four of them. The Zenit Saint Petersburg striker has scored six goals in this group and a wager on him to score against Scotland has odds of 5/4 (2.25) if it’s placed at Betfair.
Russia have kept five straight home clean sheets. You can get odds of on them not conceding against Scotland. The visitors have already failed to score in two of their three away qualifiers so far. You will probably feel like you’ve scored a winning goal if paying the Betbull website a visit.
There have only been three previous meetings between the two nations. Scotland are still waiting for their first victory but the first two games held in 1994 and 1995 both ended in draws. There are odds of 3/1 (4.0) at Betfred on this match ending all square. Two out of the three matches have had under 2.5 goals scored in them. The odds on that stat coming up for this game are 4/6 (1.66) at BoyleSports.
Liam Cooper is injured and will miss this game for Scotland. He’s been replaced in the squad by Kilmarnock defender Stuart Findlay. Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland is in the squad for the first time and there’s a place for Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck.
It’s an accurate statement to say that their rugby union team has a much better chance of beating Russia this week than their football side. Scotland have little chance of making it into the top two in this group and their task in the coming months is to build some confidence in time for the play-offs. Russia are in good form at present and difficult to score against. A punt on Russia to win to nil has odds of 11/10 (2.1) at Unibet.