Scotland are in a must-win situation as they host Russia at Hampden Park in Euro 2020 qualifying on Friday.
The Tartan Army have lost 2 of their opening 4 games, 3-0 losses to Kazakhstan and Group I leaders Belgium. Thus, they are 3 points off their opponents and need to make up ground if they want to finish second behind group favorites Belgium.
However, Steve Clarke’s side do have another way to qualify if they miss out on a top 2 spot in Group I as they have already secured a playoff spot through their performances in the UEFA Nations League.Embed from Getty Images
Nevertheless, Scotland will look for nothing less than a win when they face Russia in front of their home fans as they look to get their qualifying back on track.
Coming to their opponents, Russia are playing like a side who reached the World Cup quarterfinals against all odds, which they did last year as hosts. After losing to group favorites Belgium in the opening game, Stanislav Cherchesov’s men trounced Kazakhstan 3-0, San Marino 9-0 and Cyprus 1-0 to take firm control of the second spot.Embed from Getty Images
While a draw will also be a decent result for the Russians, they have the form and attacking firepower to secure a win. If the visitors win, they will have all but secured their 2nd spot in the group.
Coming to team news, Grant Hanley and Liam Palmer are out of the Scottish squad with injury, which led to David Bates and Mikey Devlin being called in as replacements. Further, Clarke has recalled veteran striker Steven Naismith and Robert Snodgrass this time around.
Meanwhile, Russia will be without Anton Miranchuk, who is out with a thigh injury. Instead, Ruslan Kambolov has been called up as a replacement. Barring him, the same side that beat Cyprus in June will line up in Glasgow.
Looking at head-to-head, both sides have only met twice, way back in the 90s for Euro 96 qualification. Both of those games ended in draws and this will be their first meeting since then.
Team Form and Scotland vs Russia Prediction
Form definitely favors the Russians, who have scored more goals than any other team in Euro 2020 qualifying so far, and have won their last 3 games with a 14-0 scoreline. Their star forward Artem Dzyuba is continuing his World Cup form, having scored 5 goals in 4 games so far.Embed from Getty Images
While Scotland did lose 2 of their last 4 games, Clarke’s men are a different entity on home soil. The Tartan Army lost just one of their last 14 competitive matches at home and have won their last 5 in a row in front of their fans.
Further, they have scored in 13 of their last 14 home games and can be once again expected to find the back of the net in this one, considering their opponents have kept only 5 clean sheets in their last 14 games across all competitions.
However, the Scots have not been solid at the back either with just 4 clean sheets in the last 16 games. Thus, goals are a surety at both ends. Further, there were over 2.5 goals in 7 of the last 8 Scotland matches and in 4 of the last 6 Russia matches.
Thus, an attack-fest with over 2.5 goals is a definite possibility with both teams potentially sharing the spoils in the end.
Predicted Scotland XI: Marshall; O’Donnell, Mulgrew, Cooper, Robertson; McLean, Armstrong, McTominay; Forrest, Fraser, McBurnie.
Predicted Russia XI: Guilherme; Fernandes, Semyonov, Dzhikiya, Kudryashov; Ozdoyev, Zobnin; Ionov, Golovin, Cheryshev; Dzyuba