Under pressure, Scotland need a win in Shkodër and Betfair's football writer Frankie Monkhouse thinks those called upon can deliver...
"Scotland are favourites to finish the job against Albania and match the efforts of September. The away win is available at [2.5] when backed on the Betfair Exchange"
Patience wearing thin
Alex McLeish takes his Scotland side to Loro Borici for a match they simply must win if they are to have any chance off finishing on top of UEFA Nations League C1 and salvaging any credit from what is in danger of becoming another failed campaign.
The visitors board a plane having lost five of their last six in all competitions and the patience of fans is beginning to wear thin. They played out a 3-1 defeat at home to Portugal last month and the fact only 20,000 turned out to see their team test themselves against the European champions speaks of the feeling in the camp at present.
Will Scotland finally give their long-suffering support something to cheer away from home?
Eagles swoop to bottom of the group
Albania don't have things any better on their side of the fence and head into leg four of the tournament with one win against two defeats. The spare came on debut when beating Israel 1-0 at home back in September, Xhaka scoring the only goal of the game on 55 minutes to make the difference. They were unable to build on that strong start, however, and went on to lose 2-0 at Hampden before dropping the same result away to Israel.
Three points on the board from a possible nine, one goal scored and four conceded. That's good enough for bottom of the pile and they sit third of three, level on points with their opponents, having played a game more.
The fact they've failed to hit the net in their last three starts in all competitions, including a 0-0 friendly draw with Jordan in October, ensures they won't be overly popular with football punters on matchday.
Scotland suffer with a number of call-offs
Scotland have managed just one win in their last six in all competitions. That same period shows the Tartan Army have had just four goals to cheer, while watching the team leak a dozen at the other end. They were last seen going down to Portugal in Glasgow in a friendly, a Steven Naismith strike deep into stoppage time the only slight positive on a night that saw Costa, Eder and Bruma heap on the pressure.
The Scots would never be expected to beat a side of Portugal's quality, but it does beg the question, why put the players through it? They are already low on confidence, the squad ravaged by call-offs, but have been thrown in with the likes of Portugal, Peru, Mexico and Belgium since May. Fans are struggling to see the point of it all and it appears some players are too.
Newcastle winger Matt Ritchie is the latest of a long list to withdraw his services, asking to be excluded from international football for the foreseeable future. He joins James McArthur and Robert Snodgrass, both missing through injury, as well as Steven Naismith, Leigh Griffiths and John Souttar. That makes a tough job nigh on impossible for McLeish.
Away win favourite with traders
Despite a length injury list - and squad that raised a few eyebrows when announced - Scotland are favourites to finish the job against Albania and match the efforts of September. The away win is available at [2.5] when backed on the Betfair Exchange, while sportsbook players will find another 2-0 result chalked up at 8/1.
Punters certainly won't be getting carried away with the Tartan Army's chances in Shkoder, but the home team's poor form makes them easy to oppose. The side led by former Italy and Real Madrid defender Christian Panucci have failed to score a goal in their last three and have conceded a total of 11 in a half-dozen outings. That ensures the [3.2] available about local cheer on the Exchange shouldn't receive too much attention. The draw goes [3.15].
Low-scoring match expected
Here we have a match involving two sides who have struggled to hit the net of late. Yes, Scotland did get a goal against the mighty Portugal, but it came with 93 minutes on the clock with the game dead and buried. In their last six the visiting team have managed just four, half coming against Saturday's opponents in that win at Hampden.
Therefore, under 2.5 goals looks a smart play and trades at 1/2 on the sportsbook. A price best suited to your accumulators, but the stats make it one worth having. Over 2.5 is difficult to make a case for, even with 7/5 there to be snatched at. Struggling to put your trust in either the home or away dressing room? Tick no on the both teams to score coupon at 4/6 (Sportsbook).
No both teams to score @ 4/6 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Scotland win @ [2.5] (Betfair Exchange)