Scotland left it late against Slovakia on Thursday and Betfair's Frank Monkhouse expects more of the same from Gordon Strachan's battlers when they meet Slovenia in a crucial World Cup qualifier on Sunday night...
"Followers of the trends will also be interested to learn that Scotland have never lost to Slovenia in four previous meetings, the head-to-head stats made up of two wins and two draws."
Katanec's side offer little in attack
Are Scotland playing Slovenia at exactly the right time? Recent results would suggest so, the home side losing two of their last three, and three of their last five. That patchy form was made worse by defeat at Wembley on Thursday, fans north of the border thanking The Three Lions for lending a helping hand, although it was done through gritted teeth, of course. Harry Kane pounced late, the captain scoring a winner on 94 minutes. Not a performance that will raise expectations ahead of Russia 2018, but a result that ensured they travel as group winners.
Slovenia's other two defeats in that run of five have come at the hands of Slovakia and Scotland, all three ending in a 1-0 reverse. Manager Srecko Katanec ensures his side are difficult to break down, but that approach leads to a lack of bite at the other end of the park. They managed just one shot on target in Thursday's defeat in London, finishing with 33% of the overall possession. In their last match vs Scotland, they had just one shot at goal, showing a 39% share of possession.
They must be more adventurous in front of their own fans, but if taking results vs Lithuania and Malta out of the equation, it's difficult to make a strong case for the home win, or for them causing too much panic in the Scotland defence. Flicking through results and stats, the locals are proven to be a tough nut to crack, but one Strachan will be confident can be broken.
Scotland have never lost to Slovenia
Scotland kept their hopes of going to next summer's World Cup in Russia alive with a thrill-a-minute win over Slovakia at Hampden on Thursday. Drama was expected, and drama was delivered, Martin Skrtel turning an Ikechi Anya cross into his own net on 89 minutes. Gordon Strachan's side enjoyed a generous slice of fortune, but it was nothing short of what they deserved, hitting the bar twice and finding goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in the form of his life.
On a night that saw the visitors' main dangerman Robert Mak sent off for a second bookable offence on 23 minutes, it was more than the Tartan Army could handle, but they now must do it all again in Slovenia on Sunday if they are to finish as Group F runners up behind England. The table makes for interesting reading - England home and hosed on 23 points, able to make travel arrangements, Scotland in second on 17 points, Slovakia 15 and Slovenia 14.
Therefore, Scotland's fate rests in their own hands, but with Slovakia almost guaranteed three points with a home match against Group F whipping boys Malta on Sunday, this is another must-win. Strachan's boys won 1-0 in the reverse of this fixture, Chris Martin scoring an 88th minute winner back in March to nick the points. Followers of the trends will also be interested to learn that Scotland have never lost to Slovenia in four previous meetings, the head-to-head stats made up of two wins and two draws. Taking no in the both to score market would've gifted a winner in three of the four. The same again here is 8/11 (sportsbook).
Slovenia have struggled against the group's better sides, but they are favourites in the betting to buck that trend and deny Scotland at the SRC Stozice. That'll come as a surprise to many, but Betfair traders are convinced on the winners of this match, offering home cheer at 6/4 on the sportsbook. There's currently more joy to be had when playing the exchange, [2.74] available. Slovenia have been losing matches, but not by much, and with half of the four recorded meetings between these sides ending all-square, a repeat can't be ignored at [3.45].
This Scotland side refuses to accept failure. Strachan has a group of battle-hardened warriors, who have felt the heartache of missing out on major tournaments all too often in the past, mixed with the ambition of youth. In the likes of Kieran Tierney and Andrew Robertson they have a future full of promise. By the time next summer comes around, there's no doubt both men will be better players, and there's a list of hungry recruits waiting in the wings too. It's a good time to be a Scotland supporter again, and it'll be even better if they win at [2.76].
It'll pay to keep this one simple and follow the clues that appear to be glaringly obvious. Let's look at the recent results of both sides. In their five competitive games in 2017, Slovenia have lost three and won two, those victories coming over Lithuania and Malta. As mentioned, the losses have all carried a 1-0 final score. That would suggest we're in for another low-scoring 90 minutes.
Now, let's put those results beside the 2017 form of Scotland. Four wins and one draw. Two of those wins were vs Lithuania and Malta, the other two, Slovenia and Slovakia, gave us a 1-0 score, both thanks to late goals. The exchange has this match giving over 2.5 goals at [2.38], which is a nice price, but under 2.5 at [1.68] makes much more sense.