Best odds: 2/1
Israel will be hoping to put an end to a dreadful run of results as they play host to in-form Scotland on Thursday night. Alex McLeish’s men, on their own part, are looking to build up on the positive start to their UEFA Nations League campaign and this could be a very interesting clash at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa.
It’s been almost half a century since Israel first – and last – appeared at the major international competition – the 1970 World Cup – and the Blue and Whites will be lacking no motivation heading into what’s likely to be a ‘must-win’ match for Andi Herzog’s men.
Beating Scotland will be easier said than down given that Israel are in a devastating run of form. The Blue and Whites lost seven of their last eight matches, including last four on the trot and will be under great pressure to get their first three points in little over a year. Israel will be hoping home advantage will provide them with enough a boost to record their first win over Scotland in last three attempts. If they hope to have any chance of doing so, Israel will need their striker Moanes Dabour on top of his game. The 26-year-old Salzburg striker plundered 15 goals in 19 appearances for his club this season, including two goals he scored in his team’s 3-1 win over Celtic in the Europa League. Six goals in his four starts with Salzburg will be enough of a warning to Scotland.
Moanes Dabour is set to start the Scotland game and will be joined by QPR forward Tomer Hemed in attack if Andi Herzog continues to stick with his 3-5-2 set-up.
The Tartan Army got back on track following three losses on the bounce with a comfortable 2-0 win over Albania which marked a fine beginning of the UEFA Nations League for Scotland. It’s been over 20 years since Scotland last enjoyed a major international appearance and will definitely be looking to make one step closer to qualifying for the Euro 2020 through the newly-formed competition.
Scotland endured a difficult stretch of three games without a single goal to their name and efficiency is one aspect of the game Scott McLeish will be looking to improve in Israel. It will be easier said than done knowing that striker Leigh Griffiths, who scored four goals in 19 appearances, pulled out of the squad to focus on his fitness. Griffiths was disappointed to get dropped to the bench against Albania, describing it as a ‘kick in the teeth’. Griffiths endured a calf problem which forced him off in last month’s friendly defeat at the hands of Belgium and now wants to focus on getting fit for his club. Steven Naismith will be ready to replace him in the starting line-up.
McLeish recalled defenders Scott McKenna and Jack Hendry, goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin and striker Oli McBurnie.
Hibernian winger Martin Boyle has been overlooked as he is a target for Australia while Ryan Fraser withdrew from the squad with an unspecified injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Israel lost last four matches across all competitions
- What’s more, the Blue and Whites won only one of their last ten games
- Israel have yet to beat Scotland in three attempts
- Scotland failed to score a single goal in three of their last four matches
- Tartan Army’s six of last seven games produced under 2.5 goals
Israel and Scotland head into the Thursday’s UEFA Nations League clash in contrasting form but with the same goal. The hosts have endured a rather disappointing run of results during the last 12 months whereas Scotland also struggled to find their form of late. A 2-0 win over Albania last time out should be enough of a morale boost for McLeish’s men in Haifa though.
Best odds: 2/1
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