Scotland v Israel: Home advantage enough to see Scots win Group C1
It's the last throw of the dice for Scotland as they host Israel. The locals are betting favourites, but will they deliver? Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse previews...
"Scotland are favourites for the win, but the betting tells us this will be tight. Betfair traders have marked a home cheer at 3/4"
Scotland breathe new life into campaign
It's the fourth and final match of the UEFA Nations League Group C1 as Scotland host Israel at Hampden Park in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Both sides enter level on six points, meaning this tie doubles as a shoot-out for top-spot and place in the play-offs. The locals are betting favourites to get the desired result, but members of the Tartan Army will tell you following Scotland rarely goes to plan.
Alex McLeish's crew recorded an emphatic win over Albania in Shkoder on Saturday night, scoring four goals and keeping a clean-sheet to breathe new life into their campaign.
Confidence was at an all-time low amongst fans and with a number of big-name call-offs, supporters at the venue and following back home feared the worst. There was no need to worry as those wearing the famous dark blue stepped up and delivered.
A youthful side took the lead inside 14 minutes through the impressive Ryan Fraser and the job was made easier when Mergim Mavraj was shown a straight red card on 21 for a blatant head-butt on the scorer. The Eagles gave their guests another boost when conceding a penalty at the end of the first-half, one Steven Fletcher had no trouble firing into the net. With the points wrapped-up before the break, James Forrest added a bit of gloss to the final score with a second-45 double.
Israel fancy their chances
Israel travel to Glasgow on the back of a two-match winning run in this competition and will fancy themselves good enough to hold their ground and finish as champions of the pool, having won each of their last three. That purple patch began with a hard-fought 2-1 over Tuesday's opponents last month at the Haifa International Stadium, despite falling behind to a Charlie Mulgrew opener.
Getting themselves in front early, Scotland quickly unravelled. Dor Peretz knocked a leveller past goalkeeper Alan McGregor, nine minutes before John Souttar was sent off for a second bookable offence when hauling down Moanes Dabour. The Blue and Whites took full advantage, claiming three points when Kieren Tierney knocked a Beram Kayal cross into his own net.
Andi Herzog's side built on that surprise win with another over Albania at the same venue next time out. Hemed and Seba were on target to claim a deserved three points and move the underdogs top of the pile. Will they stay there? They did their chances no harm whatsoever when hammering Guatemala 7-0 in a friendly on Thursday. Five different scorers and the hat-trick completed, spirits are high in the away dressing room.
Locals look worthy favourites
Scotland are favourites for the win, but the betting tells us this will be tight. Betfair traders have marked a home cheerat 3/4 and, on the back of Saturday's performance, that's expected to be popular in midweek accumulators. It'll carry our support with McLeish picked to get fans back onside.
Fancy opposing a threadbare jolly? Israel are expected to sit in and make things difficult, aiming to silence the Hampden roar early and force doubt in the stands. The Sportsbook offers a draw at 23/10, the visitors an eye-catching 16/5 to spoil the party and progress at the expense of their opponents.
Neutrals in for a treat
These sides have met only once before - that 2-1 Israel victory early last month - but let's not forget Scotland took the lead that night and were in the match when reduced to 10 men. Keeping their discipline and remaining patient will be crucial but Saturday's away win means there's a new-found belief in the camp.
Scotland have the individual talent to win this match and, if playing together as a team, they'll do just that. Armchair fans and neutrals will be excited to learn there has been three or more goals scored in four of Scotland's last five outings, that's also true in three of Israel's last four. Follow the trends and back this match to produce Over 2.5 Goals at 6/5, better than the 13/20 for under.