Israel v Scotland: Visitors can get a result in Haifa and take control of the group

Scotland manager Alex McLeish
Pressure on Big Eck to deliver
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Scotland can take control of the group with an away win but traders are against them. Betfair's football writer Frankie Monkhouse has a bit more confidence...

"Back-to-back wins would do Scotland’s chances of qualifying for a major tournament the world of good but Big Eck must make do without Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths."

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

Israel have lost their last four

Israel and Scotland meet for the first time in recorded competitive history when deciding three UEFA Nations League points at Haifa International Stadium on a busy night of international action. The Blue and Whites, managed by former Bayern Munich attacker Andi Herzog, will aim to make life difficult for their visitors but they'll do so on the back of a woeful run of form.

One win in their last six starts gives an idea of the mood in the home dressing room approaching matchday, the spare being a hard-fought 1-0 victory over lowly Lichtenstein in a World Cup qualifier almost a year ago to the day. Since Tibi scored to earn his nation a rare positive, Israel have played four times and lost on each occasion.

Edged 1-0 by Spain, they then went down 2-1 to Romania, 1-0 Albania in this very competition and, most recently, 3-0 away to Northern Ireland last month. The stats suggest the locals are set for a tough night's work.

Griffiths withdraws from squad

Scotland's recent form isn't too much better with two wins and four defeats making up their last half-dozen outings. The Scots lost three games in-a-row between wins over Hungary and Albania, but they have been matched hard, 2-0 away to Peru, 1-0 on Mexican turf and a 4-0 drubbing when playing host to Belgium. Not surprising that they lost those matches, but the run has done nothing for team morale.

Alex McLeish, back in charge for the second time, finally got the win the Tartan Army so desperately needed and they did it when it mattered most, breezing to a 2-0 under the bright lights of Hampden in game one of their Nations League Group C1.

The dark blues are currently joint-top with Albania on three points but have a game in hand over their main rivals and already have the measure of The Eagles.

Back-to-back wins would do Scotland's chances of qualifying for a major tournament the world of good but Big Eck must make do without Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths. The frontman pulled out this week, seemingly unhappy at being ranked behind Hearts goal scorer Steven Naismith. Many fans believe Griffiths has left in a huff, although coach Peter Grant told the media there's no issue. Regardless of what you may believe, Scotland have lost a proven goal scorer and set-piece expert.

Scotland value sure to be popular

The visitors jet in knowing they have the chance to take control of the group with a crucial away win but traders and punters appear to be stuck on the fence and you'll find the home win marked up as the favourite. Punters looking to follow the money find Israel available at [2.62] on the Betfair Exchange, the draw an eye-catching [3.2].

Making the trip to Haifa and leaving with all three points is certainly no mean feat but McLeish seems to be moving his side in the right direction and they are certainly good enough to upset the odds and claim the desired result.

Scotland look value at [3] and that's sure to prove popular with loyal members of the Tartan Army and lovers of the value, especially against an opponent on a four-match losing run.

Over 2.5 goals easy to trust

Defence will be key to any success Scotland have on Thursday night but the stats suggest they'll have their work cut out for them keeping a clean-sheet.

They've lost eight goals in their last six matches which doesn't look good on paper, but on closer inspection, we see a different story. Clean sheets against Hungary and Albania show up on the list while half of the goals conceded came against Belgium. Easy enough to forgive.

In the same period followers of the formbook will see Israel have also conceded eight and that nudges us towards both teams to score which can be added to midweek accumulators at evens, top price on the Betfair Sportsbook. Sticking with that thought and Over 2.5 Goals in the game at 11/8 is far easier to play than the 8/15 about under 2.5.

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