Friday night sees Scotland and Russia clash at Hampden Park in a must win game for both sides. With Belgium out in front of Group I, it’s a race for 2nd place and the final spot for Euro 2020. Russia currently occupy that position and are three points ahead of Kazakhstan and Scotland. A defeat for Scotland would extend that gap to six points and with it, would seriously knock any hope for a place at Euro 2020. It’s such a hard game to predict which is why I’m not going to recommend a certain team to win.
Both teams to score @2.0
It really is a must win game for both sides. A Russia win would give them some much needed breathing space ahead of Scotland and Kazakhstan (depending on their result) in the group. A Scotland win would open the door to Euro 2020 wide open. They would go level on points with Russia in 2nd place with a home fixture against San Marino still to come. There’s no denying Scotland have struggled for goals lately but with the likes of Steven Naismith and Robert Snodgrass recalled to the squad this month, Steve Clarke is looking to fix that problem.
Artem Dzyuba to score anytime @3.1
Zenit forward Dzyuba has been on fire so far in the competition. Out of the 15 goals his side have scored, five of those are to his name. The 31 year-old is a difficult man to defend against. His aerial threat will cause Scotland’s centre backs some serious problems and with his average of over 1 goal per game, I fancy him to find the net given the opportunity.
Over 1.5 away match goals @2.88
Russia have been ruthless in front of goal so far in the competition. They’ve netted 15 goals in just four games – that’s a huge average of 3.75 per game with no other team scoring more in the group. They come up against a Scotland side who have conceded far more than they have scored so far in the competition and with centre back Scott McKenna ruled out of the game through injury, it looks like Steve Clarke will have to make do with a make shift defence.
Over 2.5 match goals @2.4
Scotland’s last goalless draw in a European Championship qualifier came way back in September 1986 and with both teams scoring in each of their last four such home matches, goals are to be expected. Russia go into the game having averaged a huge combined 4.5 goals so far in the competition. Whilst Scotland have averaged a lower 2.75, new manager Steve Clarke will be hungry to his side to score more.
Full time result – Draw @3.0
Based on everything I have talked about above, I think that this could well finish as a draw. Despite Russia coming into this one on better form, Hampden Park is a tough place to go to. The Tartan Army haven’t lost a competitive match at home in the last nine games. The whole of Scotland will be really up for it, so I expect a close encounter to be on the cards.