Unpredictable Israel to upset Scotland in Glasgow
Scotland and Israel face off at Hampden Park in the UEFA qualification section of the FIFA World Cup, full in the knowledge that the scrap for second behind a peerless Denmark outfit is starting to reach a decisive moment. The two sides drew 1-1 in Tel Aviv back in March, and it's the Tartan Army's inability to normally conjure up more than one goal against presentable opposition that remains their weakest point. The visitors followed up a shocking 5-2 thrashing of Austria by being wiped out in Copenhagen by an even heavier scoreline. Which version of the blue and whites turns up in Glasgow will go a long way to deciding the outcome. Read our preview here:
As ever, key to both the midfield and the overall harmony of the squad is Aston Villa's John McGinn. Though not captain, he's a leader on the pitch, and much of their best approach play up to the front pairing of Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams comes from his passing ability, and, with the likes of Billy Gilmour fit alongside him, the hosts have a good chance of dictating the tempo from the outset. Grant Hanley's suspension could mean a place in a back three for Scott McTominay, a role he's more familiar with on the international stage. The rapport on the left between Kiernan Tierney and Andrew Robertson will be critical to their chances from open play, and the accurate crossing the duo are renowned for will be a boon if they need to throw more caution to the wind.
Eran so far
Similarly, Hatem Elhamed's accumulation of yellow cards over the course of Group F to date has ruled him out of this high-stakes clash, but the away side have a decent pool of centre backs to come in his place. Most impressive in their victory over Austria was how they swarmed as one from midfield, and a real battle of attrition is likely to taqke place in the middle third of the pitch. Dor Peretz will anchor the five, and, with no equivalent for the hosts, much will rely on him being able to smother the pressure exerted on his position. Up front, PSV Eindhoven's Eran Zahavi has crashed in six goals in as many matches, and is a huge threat. The 34 year old is a complete forward, and is not simply going to stick to his marker if things aren't going his way.
Scotland in a Rutten
Bearing in mind rivals Austria will almost certainly come away from the Faroe Islands with all three points, a clear winner is needed in Scotland to give more breathing space ahead of a kinder midweek schedule against Landsliðið and Moldova respectively. The home side possess some elite talents, but mainly in defensive areas. Israel are almost always overlooked or dismissed as a footballing nation, and that could be to Steve Clarke's peril. Parimatch have odds of 4.50 for an away win that would tip the balance back to a small part of the Middle East.