Slovakia vs Scotland
Scotland can secure promotion to the UEFA Nations League A when they head to Slovakia on Sunday. The famous Tartan Army won’t be there to cheer on their heroes but the Braveheart spirit will be evident on the pitch.
Steve Clarke’s Scots are top of Group B2, on ten points and four clear of the second placed Czech Republic, while their hosts are in serious trouble, rooted to the bottom of the group with a single point.
Scots are fighting on two fronts
The UEFA Nations League 2020 betting odds are looking good for Scotland who have a firm grip on Group B2, with this match the first of two chances to win their promotion to join Europe’s elite. But before they travel to Slovakia, Steve Clarke’s men have a crunch Euro 2020 play-off tie to contend with, when they meet Serbia on Thursday night.
They booked their place in that play-off final with a 5-3 penalty shootout win over Israel, but they face tough opponents in Serbia, who sit 30th in the FIFA rankings, 15 places above the Scots having beaten a strong Norway side in their semi-final play-off. That is a huge game for Scotland, who last appeared in a major tournament finals at the 1998 World Cup in France, and if they make it this time they will be grouped with their old foes from south of the border… England.
There has been a remarkable turnaround in Scotland under the guidance of Clarke, who was appointed in May 2019 as the national side were defeated 3-0 by Kazakhstan. Since then they have gone on an eight match unbeaten run which has taken them to the brink of success in both tournaments.
And Clarke has more talent to call on than Scotland has seen in decades. The team is skippered by Liverpool league winner Andy Robertson who leads a side with other Premier League stars including midfielder John McGinn who has transformed Aston Villa from relegation fodder to a dangerous team, since recovering from injury. And 23 year old wingback Kieran Tierney has found favour at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta, impressing in a recent victory over Manchester United
Newcastle striker Ryan Fraser scored the only goal in Scotland’s recent victory over the Czech Republic but he has been sidelined with a hamstring strain, as has experienced centre back Grant Hanley. Fraser’s absence could hand an opportunity to Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths who has the chance to earn his first cap under Clarke.
Hamsik leads by example
When the weekend’s UEFA Nations League 2020 results are all in, Scotland could be home and dry but Slovakia have a world class player in their ranks who will be determined to delay the Scots’ celebrations.
With 26 goals from 123 appearances, former Napoli legend Marek Hamsik is his nation’s best player of all time, leading them to a first World Cup finals in 2010 and their first European Championships in 2016; and he helped his side to their own Euro 2020 play-off final with a penalty shootout victory over the Republic of Ireland. They face Northern Ireland on Thursday night for a place in the finals next summer.
Hamsik moved to Chinese Super League Club Dalian Pro in 2019 and he has been allowed by manager Rafa Benitez to train alone in Europe for the past month, to avoid the risk of travel restrictions. That level of commitment could inspire his team to a successful week. He can’t do it alone and will rely on the support of Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar and speedy Slovan Bratislava winger Vladimir Weiss.
The Slovaks will be led by new head coach Stefan Tarkovic who has been installed as caretaker boss, after Pavel Hapel was potted following a shock 2-3 home defeat to Israel.
Scotland have won two of the last three matches against Slovakia, and in the most recent Lyndon Dykes scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory in the return fixture last month
The Scots beat Slovakia by the same score in their failed Russia 2018 qualifying campaign, while their opponents triumphed by 3-0 in a 2016 World Cup qualifier.
Recent form favours the visitors, who have won four on the bounce and their eight match unbeaten run is their longest since 1988.
In contrast Slovakia have won one of the last four and have suffered back-to-back defeats (before the Euro 2020 play-off against Northern Ireland).
|Slovakia vs Scotland||1X2 Draw @ 3.05|
|November 15, 22:00 (GMT+8)|
Here at SBOTOP we’ve found it difficult to split these two teams. Scotland have the better players on current form, but Slovakia are playing at home in familiar surroundings and have dangerous players of their own, particularly in the shape of talisman and skipper Marek Hamsik.
Both teams are at 2.59 to win, but I’m backing the draw and 1-1, at odds of 5.00, is the most likely outcome.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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