Russia to continue renaissance against Scotland
The Scottish national team have become a bit of a joke in recent years as they hop from crisis to defeat. They face Russia in the Euro 2020 qualifiers on Friday. Can Steve Clarke start the long road to recovery or will it be the same old story for the Scots? Have a read of our preview here:
Steve Clarke’s mountain to climb
The new Scotland manager should be under no illusions about what he has stepped into with the national team role. Gordon Strachan and Alex McLeish could not find the answers and it now falls to the former Chelsea defender to try and build a squad capable of qualifying for their first major tournament since 1998.
The problems are unclear as the pool of players the coach has to call upon have proven that they are simply not good enough to take the team to the next level despite having a number of top club men in the squad.
Defeat in the last game to Belgium will have come as no surprise to the fans and, in a sense, it will have allowed a few fringe players to get some minutes while giving the coaches a chance to assess the group and see who deserves another shot.
The defeat to Kazakhstan was embarrassing and the narrow victory over San Marino and Cyprus has done little to placate the fans. This is a nation desperate for success and getting tired of the same old excuses. It is time to see improvements on the pitch and Steve Clarke could be the man to do it.
With talent such as Ryan Fraser, Scott McTominay, John McGinn and Andrew Robertson in the squad he certainly has a couple of players to build around but it is up to him to find a playing identity that works.
Russia maintaining momentum
The 2018 World Cup was a huge success for the hosts, and they have maintained that momentum as they look to qualify for Euro 2020. The opening qualifier against Belgium saw the Russian put up a good fight before they beat Kazakhstan with ease and demolished San Marino 9-0 in Saransk.
Their third successive win was sealed with a 1-0 victory against Cyrus and they head into the match against the Scots full of self-belief.
Key men in Dzyuba and Smolov have been excellent with the former netting four times in the win against San Marino to follow up his strike against Kazakhstan. They may not be blessed with an outstanding world star but the Russians have plenty of quality and confidence which makes them a danger to almost anyone.
Scotland v Russia betting tip
Given Scotland’s recent troubles it would be optimistic to assume they are going to quickly turn into a side capable of beating top European talent. That is why backing Russia to win at odds of 7/4 is our hot pick in this one.