Verdict: Scotland win
Best Odds: 13/10
Knowing that they are two wins away from booking their spot at EURO 2021, Scotland will welcome Israel to an empty Hampden on Thursday night.
Starting with the hosts, last seen putting in what was another eye-catching display away in the Czech Republic last month, Scotland’s 2-1 win on foreign soil really highlighted what has been a real resurge for the Tartan Army. While Steve Clarke’s side might have failed to secure an automatic route to next year’s delayed European Championships, the mood around Hampden is at a real high. Now winning four of their last five matchups across all competitions and a 1-1 draw against Thursday’s guests the only ever so minor blip on their recent purple patch, they did sign off their qualifying campaign with three wins on the bounce, including a thumping 3-1 victory against Kazakhstan. Suddenly finding a real clinical edge in the final third, it could be worth keeping an eye out for Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn in midweek. Getting himself on the scoresheet in Villa’s stunning 7-2 win against Liverpool over the weekend, the one-time Hibernian ace has remarkably bagged six goals in his last five international appearances.
Stuart Armstrong, Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie will all miss Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel on Thursday after the former tested positive for Covid-19.
Armstrong was the only member of the squad to return a positive test.
As for the visitors, while Israel might have managed to come from behind and grab a late point when they traveled to Hampden on Nations League duties last month, Willibald Ruttensteiner’s men have struggled to find any real momentum over the past 16 months. Also landing another stalemate when hosting Slovakia, the Blue and Whites have managed to win just one of their last nine matchups across all formats, a run that stems back to June 2019. With a real reputation for their issues at the back, Thursday’s guests should also be concerned by their continued problems on the road. Aside from just about managing to scrape that point in Glasgow last month, Israel have managed to collect just a single point over their last five straight contests on foreign soil, a run highlighted by 3-1 and 4-0 defeats at the hands of Austria and Poland. Even more concerning for Ruttensteiner, aside from a 3-0 win against Latvia last year, they have not recorded another win away from Ramat Gan since October 2017.
Israel have confirmed that they will be without both Taleb Tawatha and Dor Peretz.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two sides faced off at Hampden on Nations League duties last month, they played out a 1-1 draw.
- In fact, each of the last four straight meetings between Scotland and Israel have finished with both teams finding the net.
- Aston Villa midfield John McGinn has six goals in his last five international appearances.
- Israel have failed to win any of their last five matchups on the road and have just a single victory on foreign soil since October 2017.
- Six of Israel’s last eight away fixtures have seen over 2.5 goals by the final whistle.
While Scotland might have seen Israel come from behind and grab a late point when they hosted Thursday’s guests on Nations League duties last month, Steve Clarke’s side should see a golden chance at Hampden, despite their weakened squad. Making a string of alterations and finding the mood in their camp at a real high under the one-time Kilmarnock boss, they should be looking to cash in on an Israel side that have only continued to show some glaring issues on the road. Landing just a single victory on foreign soil over the past three years and that run highlighted by 3-1 and 4-0 defeats at the hands of Austria and Poland, we’re backing a home victory for the Tartan Army.
Verdict: Scotland win
Best Odds: 13/10
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