Serbia vs Scotland | Thursday 12th November 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Well, finally Scotland's date with destiny has arrived. Looking to line-up in a major tournament next summer for the first time in 23 years – they will arrive in Belgrade for this play-off final in excellent recent form:
- Unbeaten in the last 8 matches (W7-D1-L0).
- 3 clean sheets in the last 3 games.
- Only 4 goals conceded in those recent 8 matches.
It's fair to say it took Steve Clarke took a handful of games at the beginning of his tenure to really shape this Scotland team the way he wanted – and to get the correct mix of personnel into the side. With guys like Andy Robertson, John McGinn, Scott McTominay and Kieran Tierney currently operating at the highest level in the Premier League, the foundations are strong with a line-up that Clarke has made very difficult to beat.
Serbia in truth have been pretty inconsistent in their last eight: W3-D3-L2. Ljubisa Tumbakovic's hosts, did however reserve their best performance in that sequence with a superb 2-1 play-off semi-final win in extra time in Norway.
The Eagles who will be looking to get to their first European Championships will be without Werder Bremen's Milos Veljkovic and Sassuolo’s Filip Djuricic, and though the veteran Aleksandar Kolorov is a doubt, he maybe risked for such a crucial game.
Expect a tight battle
Antonio Mateu Lahoz has been appointed to referee this clash. As most will know the Spaniard is not shy at reaching for the cards. I cannot see anything other than a really physical battle in this ‘win or bust’ play-off. I don't think either set of players will hold back, and leave anything behind in pursuit of qualification for their proud nations.
With match-ups like Aleksandar Mitrovic scrapping away up-top against the likes of Declan Gallagher and McTominay, and McGinn, Ryan Jack and Calum McGregor bound to get stuck in against Nemanja Gudelj and and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic et al in the midfield battle, cards look a given with a whistler who averages around 5 cards when he officiates.
The goal totals in the Euro qualifiers play-off matches four years ago, which were two legged affairs: – only 1/8 matches went over 3 goals. Hence for my main bet I'm going to recommend a Bet Builder of: Under 4 Goals and Over 4 Cards which pays close to even-money at around 20/21 with Bet365.
Another positive for the Scots on this away trip, will be the empty stands in the Rajko Mitic Stadium, although missing the Tartan Army, at the same time – the lack of thousands of raucous Serbians will be no bad thing.
Having watched Clarke manage closely over the last 3 years for club and country, I believe despite the Serbs undoubted quality, that he is perhaps the man to lead Scotland to the elusive tournament. This could be Scotland's time.
With both of the semi-finals going to extra-time, it could be that this battle for qualification goes the full distance. If so, it might be worth having a shot with William Hill on Serbia 12/1 to win on penalties and Scotland 14/1 to win on penalties, let's hope it's the latter one.
Serbia vs Scotland – Under 4 Goals and Over 4 Cards (20/21 Bet365)
Serbia vs Scotland – Serbia to win on penalties (12/1 William Hill)
Serbia vs Scotland – Scotland to win on penalties (14/1 William Hill)