Russia v Scotland: Shankland eager to prove his worth as Clarke freshens things up

Scotland manager Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke takes his battered and bruised Scotland side to Russia on Thursday
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Scotland manager Steve Clarke freshens things up as he aims to end a run of three defeats. Frankie Monkhouse sees value in the draw...

"three defeats, nine goals conceded and just one scored makes it almost impossible to trust the visitors"

Russia v Scotland
Thursday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Final roll of the dice

It's game seven of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and Scotland set-up a final roll of the dice as they travel to Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday where they face-off against Group I rivals Russia. It has been a typically disappointing campaign for the Tartan Army who can be found with only San Marino beneath them in the pecking order.

Belgium have dominated from the start, as was expected, winning each of their previous six games to sit top of the tree on 18 points. They are followed by Russia in second on 15 points, Kazakhstan and Cyprus joint third showing seven. To have any real chance of troubling the prize places Scotland must win in Moscow, but the betting makes that highly unlikely.

Russia have won their last five

The hosts have barely put a foot wrong during this qualifying effort and go into game seven with stats reading five wins against one defeat. The only blot on their copybook came in the form of a 3-1 defeat to Belgium away from home back in March, a result that came as no real surprise. The beaten side that day had no trouble brushing themselves off, however, and now look destined to finish as Group I runners up, progressing to the next phase.

Since losing to Belgium, Russia have won each of their five matches comfortably. They bounced back to hammer Kazakhstan 4-0, recorded an emphatic 9-0 over San Marino, edged Cyprus 1-0, battled past Scotland 2-1 at Hampden and went through the motions to better Kazakhstan last time. Stanislav Cherchesov added three points in the latter thanks to a goal from Fernandes on 89 minutes. Russia will fancy themselves good enough to bank another maximum on Thursday.

Scotland have lost their last three

Followers of Scotland haven't had things as good as their opponents and were forced to sit through three defeats on the bounce, going down to Belgium twice and Russia at home. The Scots are world-renowned as a loyal and passionate fanbase, but numbers are dwindling as a new generation of followers, who have never seen their nation qualify for a major tournament, decide enough is enough. They demand improvement and are desperate to modernise and shake off the gallant loser tag that has haunted the team for years.

New manager Steve Clarke is desperate to change the mentality at Hampden, but he has encountered a number of early teething problems. Clarke has won only one of his four games so far, beating Cyprus at Hampden back in the summer. That doesn't offer much encouragement but the fact his defeats have come to Belgium and Russia means we can cut him a bit of slack. Supporters must remain patient and allow him time to get it right. The main talking points from Clarke's recent squad announcement were no Kieran Tierney of Arsenal while Championship striker Lawrence Shankland was handed his first call-up.

Home win will be popular in accas

As you would expect when studying the form of this match, Russia are favourites. They claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win at Hampden last month and Betfair traders expect the locals to go and do something similar on Thursday night in front of their own fans. Punters in agreement will find the home win priced at no more than [1.55] on the Exchange and that's sure to appear in a fair share of midweek multiples.

Travelling on the back of three defeats, nine goals conceded and just one scored makes it almost impossible to trust the visitors with our hard-earned cash. They have very little to play for and many believe Clarke would be better giving youth a chance with the view of qualifying for Euro 2020 through the Nations League route. Scotland's footballing history is littered with surprise results, but there shouldn't be too much attention given to the [7.8] about an away win. A draw would show improvement for Scotland, of course, and that has been marked up as a [4.3] shot.

Clarke aims to tighten his defence

Taking our lead from the stats when flicking through the many specials offered on this match and there are a few ways to approach this game that allow you to avoid predicting a winner. Of Russia's last five wins they have kept a clean-sheet four times, the spare coming at Hampden. Scotland have failed to find the net in half of their last six. Clarke will also be desperate to improve a defence that has conceded 13 goals in six games. His Kilmarnock side were difficult to break down and he must do the same with Scotland.

Taking no in the both teams to score market should give punters an interest in this match and there's [1.61] available on that outcome. Under 2.5 goals at [1.69] is a handy alternative and that's another that should do a job in your accumulators. It's unlikely the visitors will allow themselves to be dragged into another shoot-out. It's worth remembering, however, there was very little between the sides in Glasgow and, for that reason, there looks value in the level finish.

Frank Monkhouse,

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