Even if Georgia have lost all hope of reaching the tournament finals, they will want to try and record a positive result against Scotland having suffered four defeats in last five. Gordon Strchan’s side, on the other hand, will see this encounter as a must-win game having put themselves in a very good position ahead of the final four fixtures.
Georgia never really came close to qualifying for a major tournament, but they did manage to give a hard time to quite a few of European powerhouses, especially under Temuri Ketsbaia. The former Newcastle star is no longer at the helm, having been replaced by Kakhaber Tskhadadze, but not much has changed since he left. The Crusaders had given a good account of themselves in narrow defeats to Scotland and Republic of Ireland at the start of the qualifying campaign, and they also hammered Gibraltar before the 4-0 home loss to Poland marked the end of Ketsbaia’s reign. The new coach did start with a friendly win over Malta, but two late goals were only enough to disguise team’s weaknesses, which were again on display in defeats to Germany, Ukraine and Poland. And while the Crusaders will give their best to frustrate their more illustrious opponents with a defence-minded approach, it would appear as though they lack the quality needed to match Gordon Strachan’s side that is going through a very good moment. The hosts will have captain Jaba Kankava back from suspension, but proven goalscorer Vladimir Dvalishvili misses out.
It’s now been 17 years since Scotland last qualified for a major tournament and having been placed in the same group as World Cup holders Germany, plus Poland and Republic of Ireland, Gordon Strachan’s side were not exactly seen as favourites to go through. The Scots, nonetheless, proved early on they can even mix it up with the best of them in Europe, climbing to third in the group standings, while they could have probably picked up few more points in the process. And it was some very good performances against the best sides in the group that showed Scotland were finally capable of reaching the European Championships final, although there is still a lot of work to be done if that is to become a reality. The 1-1 draw in Dublin left Gordon Strachan’s charges two and three points of Germany and Poland respectively, but with the top two sides squaring off in Frankfurt, a win over Georgia would probably see them climb to top 2 positions. That should be good enough incentive for the visitors to give their best in Tbilisi, and chances are the boss will not be too concerned by injuries to Stuart Armstrong and Christophe Berra, especially now that Scott Brown, Ikechi Anya and and Russell Martin are back in contention.
Winning in Georgia is by no means going to be easy, but we are backing Scotland to survive the difficult away game and further improve their position in the group ahead of the crunch qualifier against Germany. A narrow away win and low-scoring match do look on the cards.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 1/1
Bookmaker: William Hill