A man who loves a bet on International football is @selectabet and he’s kindly joined us to preview what looks to be a run-of-the-mill friendly in Edinburgh.
Scotland v Canada | Wednesday 19:45 | Sky Sports 1
This might feel like a meaningless friendly and that’s because it pretty much is. The real must-win match for Gordon Strachan’s side comes on Sunday when they host Slovenia in a crucial World Cup qualifier which they simple can’t afford to lose.
Even the Tartan Army seemingly can’t get excited about this fixture, with one of the smallest crowds ever to watch an international match in Scotland predicted at Easter Road.
It’s a sign of the times I guess. Fans’ patience with Strachan’s musings has worn thin following a once-promising Euro 2016 campaign that ultimately ended in failure and a less than promising start to World Cup qualifying.
The Scots still retain hope of taking their place in Russia next Summer and a win against Canada would certainly boost morale ahead of the weekend’s showdown at Hampden.
With that game on the horizon Gordon Strachan looks set to name a makeshift starting XI for Wednesday night. Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney looks set to be handed his debut at the age of 26 but Celtic’s Stuart Armstrong is likely to have to wait for his first cap against Slovenia.
There’s an imbalance to Strachan’s squad so don’t be surprised to see a few square pegs in round holes as he tries to solve some positional problems in this run-out.
Up front Leigh Griffiths is expected to start. The Celtic hitman has been left kicking his heels on the bench for much of this season though and hasn’t started any of the Hoops’ last 13 matches.
Indeed only one of the five strikers in the squad played first-team football at the weekend and that has to be a concern for Scotland. In fact too many players in the squad aren’t featuring regularly for their club so we could see a lot of them given some game-time at Easter Road.
So many changes during the course of a match seldom have a positive impact on team performance so don’t expect too much free-flowing football from Scotland.
New dawn for visitors
And what of Canada? Well they’ve won three of their five fixtures this calendar year, albeit against Bermuda, Mauritania and El Salvador. The other two matches ended in defeat to South Korea and Morocco. They’re a hard-working team but often find goals hard to come by, especially against better quality opposition.
That’s been proven in their CONCACAF qualification campaign where they’ve already been eliminated from a tough group. That resulted in a change of coach, with the Ecuadorian Octavio Zambrano only taking up his position on Friday. He named three Scots-based players in his squad; Dundee’s Marcus Haber and Fraser Aird and Luca Gasparotto from Falkirk.
As you can tell I’m not expecting fireworks in Edinburgh on Wednesday and this has the distinct feel of an Under 2.5 goals play to it. I wouldn’t talk you out of it but odds of 8/11 feel a little skinny.
So instead I’m hoping to squeeze a wee bit more value out of the game with a bet on the Time of the First Goal being scored after 28 minutes at 1/1 with Paddy Power in the hope that it’ll take Scotland a while to find their feet at an uninspiring less-than-half-empty Easter Road.
Scotland v Canada – Time of the First Goal after 28 minutes (Evens Paddy Power)