Scotland v Slovakia | Thursday 5th October 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Scotland will need to produce their best display of the campaign to stay on the road to Russia. I’m usually pessimistic when it comes to the national team’s chances but Gordon Strachan has done well to put us back in contention.
However, the loss of Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong could be too much to overcome when Slovakia come to town. The Celtic midfielders would have been definite starters and both have played big roles in getting Scotland back on track with a draw against England followed by three wins.
It’s not clear who Strachan will bring in and he has options. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie is out and from what he says it looks like Barry Bannan will start but the Sheffield Wednesday man is inconsistent and may not perform as well as we need.
Darren Fletcher, James McArthur and James Morrison are competing for spots and Morrison is an almost certain starter. I’d like to see John McGinn of Hibs play and he has the potential to be a major star. Celtic’s Callum McGregor, who like McGinn netted a double in the Celtic v Hibs game at the weekend, would be another I’d pick but Strachan doesn’t seem to be a fan.
The Slovaks thrashed us 3-0 in Trnava and gave England a scare at Wembley last month – and we’ll struggle to see them off. Scotland are 6/4 with Bet365 while Slovakia are dangerous underdogs at 59/25 (Marathon). The draw, that suits the visitors who finish off at home to Malta, is 9/4 (Matchbook).
The betting angles
Strachan’s side have been up and down this campaign and while I expect a fighting display, we’re weaker without the Celtic duo and Marek Hamsik will be the one world-class player on the pitch.
For once I hope I’m wrong but I can’t see the Slovaks losing and the best bet could be Slovakia draw no bet at 34/25 with Marathon whilst I’ll also take that generous 16/5 on Hamsik grabbing a goal.
Scotland v Slovakia – Slovakia draw no bet (34/25 Marathon)
Scotland v Slovakia – Marek Hamsik to score at anytime (16/5 Paddy Power)