21st March 2013
The home national currently occupy the bottom two places in Group A, so no doubt both Scotland and Wales will see this match as an opportunity to revive their qualifying campaign. The Red Dragons won the first match between the two teams thanks to a late brace from Gareth Bale, meaning Gordon Strachan’s men are well aware of who they need to give special attention to.
Scotland narrowly missed out on a place in the Euro 2012 play-offs to Czech Republic, but we cannot really say their showings warranted a second place in the group. The team have been pretty disappointing under Craig Levein and the hesitation of national team chiefs to give him the boot ended up costing the team dearly as they went on to pick up just two points from the first four 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The Scots were close to getting back in contention for the second place in the group as they took the lead in Cardiff, but conceded two late goals and ended up losing the game. Levein was finally sacked after the 2-0 defeat to Belgium, with Gordon Strachan appointed to replace him. The former Celtic boss saw his side beat Estonia in his first game in charge, but we have yet to see how he will fare in competitive matches. He has had James Morrison, Ross McCormack, James Forrest and David Fox withdraw due to injury, with Steven Whittaker and Barry Bannan handed late call-ups.
Despite a lot of talent coming through the ranks, Wales have largely struggled to live up to the expectations over the last few years, and they never even came close to qualifying for a major tournament. The Red Dragons were given almost no chances to qualify for the 2014 World Cup having been placed into arguably toughest group, and opening defeats to Belgium and Serbia did nothing to aid their chances. Wales did show some promise of late, winning home games against Scotland and Austria while losing to Croatia, and they are hoping another victory over rivals Scotland will see them get back into contention for a place at the tournament finals. All eyes are obviously on Gareth Bale, who is playing the best football of his career, but Ashley Williams, Craig Bellamy and Jack Collison are also expected to step up the plate and help the side record a positive result at Hampden. The Tottenham superstar should be fit to play despite missing a couple of training sessions in the build up to the match, but Joe Allen, David Vaughan and Steve Morison miss out through injury.
Scotland haven’t really impressed in the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and some important missings further damage their chances in this match. Wales are showing a lot of promise at the moment and after seeing off their rivals in Cardiff, they can be trusted to pick up at least one point from Hampden.
Verdict: Double chance on Wales
Best Odds: 1/1
Bookmaker: Stan James