Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Prediction: Russia vs Scotland

Verdict: Russia win and over 1.5 goals

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: Bet365

With their spot at next year’s European Championships all but confirmed, Russia will welcome a struggling Scotland to the Stadion Luzhniki on Thursday night.

Russia

Starting with the hosts, continuing to build off of their quarter-final finish at last year’s World Cup finals, the mood in Russia’s camp has continued to soar. Picking up a hard-fought 1-0 win over Kazakhstan last month, Stanislav Cherchesov’s men have all but secured an automatic route at next summer’s European Championships. Including picking up a 2-1 win when they met Scotland in Glasgow four weeks ago, the Reds are in the midst of a five-match winning run, their longest purple patch since September 2015. With their sole defeat coming against European heavyweights and world number one Belgium, Russia now hold a commanding eight-point buffer over the chasing pack with just four games remaining. One man to watch out for in midweek will be captain and attacking talisman, Artem Dzyuba. Opening his Champions League campaign against Benfica a fortnight ago, the Zenit striker also has six qualifying goals to his name, including one against Scotland last month.

Team News

Shunin, Anton Miranchuk, Aleksei Miranchuk, Gazinsky, Dzagoev, Smolov, Nababkin have all been ruled out of Thursday’s contest.

Scotland

As for the visitors, while Russia might find the mood in their camp at a high, Scotland find themselves in the midst of a crisis. With any chance of securing a spot out of Group I this year appearing to be off the table, Steve Clarke’s side are coming under increasing scrutiny. Humiliated by Belgium in their 4-0 hammering at Hampden last time out, the former Kilmarnock boss now sees his side enduring a three-match losing run, including their defeat against Russia in their previous meeting. Collecting just six points out of a possible 18 and sat only ahead of whipping boys San Marino, a huge part of the Tartan Army’s continued issues has been their defensive struggles. Thursday’s guests have shipped nine goals in their last three appearances and have recorded just a single clean sheet since the 17th of November. There is also no doubt that Clarke will be desperate to improve on his side’s form on their travels. Scotland have lost five of their last seven matches on the road, including a 3-0 hammering away at Kazakhstan back in March.

Team News

Mikey Devlin and Charlie Mulgrew are expected to start in central defence, and one of Johnny Russell, Oli Burke or Lawrence Shankland – who has been called up to the squad for the first time – will lead the line in attack.

Key Factors to Consider

  • When the two sides met last month Russia picked up a 2-1 win.
  • Russia have won their last five matches on the bounce, their best run since September 2015.
  • Zenit striker Artem Dzyuba has six qualifying goals.
  • Scotland have lost their last three matches on the bounce, conceding nine goals.
  • Thursday’s guests have also lost five of their last seven matches on the road.

Conclusion

On paper, this looks like a golden opportunity for Russia to secure an automatic route at next year’s European Championships. Now in the midst of a five-match winning run and also landing a 2-1 win when the two sides met in Glasgow last month, we’re backing Stanislav Cherchesov’s men to cash in on Scotland’s woeful run in midweek.

Verdict: Russia win and over 1.5 goals

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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