Cyprus v Scotland | Saturday 16th November 2019, 14:00 | Sky Sports
Scotland's Group I fate was sealed a long time ago – possibly when the draw was made.
It was always going to be a tough task to finish ahead of Belgium or Russia but we would have expected to be a comfortable third. That's still possible if we avoid defeat in Cyprus but it's still galling to be in with a shout of coming fifth out of six.
Let's face it this qualifying campaign has been a disaster from start to finish but at least we have a Nations League play-off to potentially save our skins.
Steve Clarke will be hoping to finish with wins on Saturday and at home to Kazakhstan on Tuesday to build confidence ahead of D-Day. We are 3-1 at Marathon for a double-header double and only the most fervent Tartan Army member would back it with hard cash.
It took a last-gasp Oli Burke goal to beat the Cypriots at home and our only points and goals on the road have come at San Marino. We are slight favourites at 6-4 with 888 while Cyprus are 21-10 at Bet365. I fancy the draw at 23-10 with Sportingbet although our record against the Cypriots is six wins out of six.
Scotland's chances have been hit by the withdrawal of the likes of skipper Andy Robertson, Ryan Fraser and Scott McTominay and we have the usual problems of a makeshift defence and lightweight attack. Keiran Tierney wasn't selected at Arsenal's request so third-choice left-back Greg Taylor, who hasn't seen much action at Celtic, is likely to start ahead of Derby's Graeme Shinnie.
Up front Steven Naismith will start and captain the side as he earns his 50th cap and a place in the SFA Hall of Fame. The Hearts striker is 7-1 with bet365 to score first while Dundee United’s Lawrence Shankland, who could come off the bench, is 13-2.
Aberdeen pair Scott McKenna and Mikey Devlin are likely to be in central defence and our chances of keeping a clean sheet look slim.
Aston Villa's John McGinn hit a hat-trick against San Marino and attracts at 7/2 with BetVictor to net again.
Cyprus v Scotland – Draw (23/10 Sportingbet)
Cyprus v Scotland – Both Teams To Score (1/1 Bet365)