AFTER a poor performance on Saturday night Scotland look to bounce back on Tuesday against Slovakia. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the odds.
Slovakia v Scotland | Tuesday 19:45 | Sky Sports 2
Saturday night’s match with Lithuania was as bad as it gets for Scotland fans. After the hope of that flattering 5-1 win over Malta and the shaky start to the campaign for rivals England and Slovakia there was a feeling that this might be our time.
Unfortunately there was nothing on view on Saturday to give the impression that this team could get to Russia. The standard in the first half was awful. Slow, ponderous, nervy and bereft of inspiration. It was a grim watch.
It was no huge surprise to see Lithuania take the lead and the remaining minutes of the game were awkward to say the least. A late equaliser from James McArthur averted potentially Scotland’s worst ever result.
What about Slovakia though? Well they had a frustrating weekend too losing 1-0 in Slovenia to make it two defeats out of two in this group for the second seeds.
Their loss to Slovenia was deserved and they may be suffering from a Euro 2016 hangover. Main man Marek Hamsik was flat on Saturday and they’ll need him to contribute here.
In many ways this is a bigger match for Slovakia than it is for Scotland. Failure to win at home on Tuesday would be another setback for them and put them in danger of missing out on a play-off spot. The pressure is on.
But then, probably for the first time ever, the pressure is seriously on Gordon Strachan now. The long honeymoon period he revelled in has come to a ferocious halt and the knives are out.
Failure to finish in the Top 3 of their Euro 2016 qualifying group was a big disappointment for the nation but Strachan was given another go with the country behind him.
One thing pointed at Strachan for a long time is the fact he’s a bit of a cock and that’s certainly came to the fore in recent weeks. Firstly, there was the swearing at a Maltese TV reporter last month and then on Friday he refused to take questions from a BBC journalist that had been submitted by the public. Imagine an England manager doing that?!
So as we head towards Tuesday night there is a feeling that if defeat arrives we could be seeing the final acts of the Strachan reign. He looks the kind of guy that would walk out mid-campaign.
But anyway enough of this negativity. I reckon Scotland will play better on Tuesday than they did on Saturday and positives will emerge. But will that be enough?
Cast an eye over the away performances against the top sides in the last qualifying campaign and it’s not a bad look. The 2-1 loss in Germany was exciting while defeat was avoided in both Poland and Ireland. Very respectable.
Even in the doomed-from-the-off 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign Scotland still managed to win away in Croatia and Serbia. Shame they haven’t really kicked on from there.
It’s Both Teams To Score for me here at a plump 11/10 with William Hill. It’s paid out in six of Scotland’s last eight qualifiers and Slovakia have conceded in eight of their last 10 home qualifiers. I’ll top it up with pokes on the 1-1 and 2-2 draws.
Slovakia v Scotland – Both Teams To Score (11/10 William Hill)
Slovakia v Scotland – 1-1 Draw (11/2 William Hill)
Slovakia v Scotland – 2-2 Draw (20/1 William Hill)