Scotland will take on Israel behind closed doors at the Hampden Park in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs on Thursday, 8 October 2020.
The winners of the semi-final playoff will take on either Norway or Serbia next month to settle one of the remaining four slots for next year’s rearranged finals.
Both sides have got to know each other quite well over the past few years and are set to face again only a month after their 1-1 draw in Scotland in the UEFA Nations League, having also met in the 2018-19 competition.
Scotland and Israel will also face off in Netanya, Israel, next month in the reverse leg of their UEFA Nations League tie, yet the Nations League is not what these two football-loving nations are focused on right now.
Scotland Betting Preview
In addition to their draw with Israel in their first match of the year, Scotland also beat the Czech Republic’s reserves (they had to field a B-side due to quarantine) 2-1 in Olomouc.
Steve Clarke’s side are aiming to reach their first Major international competition since the 1998 World Cup in France and their third ever European Championship since England 1996, when some of the current players were not born, while the majority were too young to keep clear memories from the experience.
Many would remember that Scotland generation that qualified for back-to-back Euros and the 1998 World Cup in the 90s’ and the new wave is eager to make history.
Scotland’s main issue, though, is they don’t have a prolific goalscorer who can make a real difference and Steve Clarke will have to choose between the likes of Oliver Burke and Oli McBurnie, who both struggle to score for their club Sheffield United in the Premier League.
QPR’s forward Lyndon Dykes, who marked his international debut against Israel last month and scored his international goal for the 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic just a few days later, could be another option to lead the line, while steve Clarke seems to have more options for his midfield line.
John McGinn will join force with his national team captain and teammate Andy Robertson as they both were involved in one of the most spectacular Premier League games over the weekend, when Aston Villa trashed Liverpool 7-2 on Sunday night, with John McGinn being directly responsible for Aston Villa’s tremendous performance as he scored and assisted.
In addition to the influential spirit of his skipper Andy Robertson and John McGinn’s quality, who also is the most prolific player in the current Scotland selection with seven goals in 23 international appearances, Steve Clarke can call on a few more Premier League players.
Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney, Sheffield United’s John Fleck, Manchester United’s Scott McTominay, Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Fraser of Newcastle United are among the most recognizable Scottish players nowadays,
Despite the weekend fiasco and considering his fighting spirit and influence, we believe that Andy Robertson is the unbeatable left-back in Steve Clarke’s set up, yet the Scottish manager could be pleased that Arsenal’s boss Mikel Arteta already used Kieran Tierney as a centre-back, so he could also start there with the national team.
If Clarke has a world-class left-back in his selection, he doesn’t have quite the same choice for the right-back role where he must pick between the long-serving Sheffield Wednesday defender Liam Palmer and Motherwell’s summer signing Stephen O’Donnell.
Following the steps of Scotland’s popular midfielder Gary McAllister, who also captained the Yorkshire outfit, Leeds United’s skipper Liam Cooper has been a regular member of Marcelo Bielsa’s project and surprisingly, the 29-years-old defender made his international debut in the 2-1 defeat to Russia last September.
While he used a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 system during the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Steve Clarke opted for a 3-1-4-2 or 3-4-3 post lockdown, in the two UEFA Nations League games last month.
Celtic’s winger James Forrest recovers from an ankle injury and won’t be available for selection, but there are raising concerns within the home side.
Southampton’s midfielder Stuart Armstrong is out of Scotland’s squad to face Israel after returning a positive test for coronavirus. The Inverness-born player initially tested negative on Monday, but has just tested positive in a second test required by UEFA ahead of each game.
As a result, two probable starters (Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie) and two staff members have been identified as close contacts of Armstrong and are also ruled out of Scotland’s international activity this month.
Israel Betting Preview
While the Israeli league has been suspended due to the national lockdown, some of the domestic clubs were able to play and Israel’s coach Willibald Ruttensteiner will have to deal without some experienced figures who were left out of the squad for Scotland.
All in all, Israel are chasing their first-ever European Championship appearance, but the fact that they’ve conceded in nine consecutive matches will be worrying. Furthermore, they are to win a match since the 3-1 victory against Latvia last October but that’s not the type of an opposition they’ll face in the UEFA Euro 2020 play-offs.
Experienced centre-forward Eran Zahavi, who scored the equalizer at Hampden Park when both sides met last month, has just joined PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie and he should lead the line on Thursday, starting alongside Hoffenheim’s Munas Dabbur.
The Blue and Whites have scored 16 goals over the course of their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, and whereas the attacking record seems to be fine, their defense has been really shaky as they have conceded 18 goals in 10 matches and that was the reason for their poor finishing.
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Dan Biton tested positive for coronavirus and was withdrawn from the squad, while Celtic’s midfielder Nir Bitton is injured and won’t be available for selection here as well.
ADO Den Haag’s Ilay Elmkies, who scored for the 1-1 draw with Slovakia last month, and Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Eyal Golasa are both competing to start alongside captain Bibras Natkho in central midfield, while Shakhtar Donetsk’s Manor Solomon should be the third player to fill the line.
Possible Starting Lineups of Scotland and Israel
Scotland: David Marshall – Scott McKenna, Scott McTominay, Liam Cooper – Kenny McLean – Andy Robertson, John McGinn, Callum McGregor, Liam Palmer – Lyndon Dykes, Oliver Burke. (3-1-4-2)
Israel: Ofir Marciano – Eli Dasa, Hatem Abd Elhamed, Sheran Yeini, Eitan Tibi, Sun Menachem – Bibras Natkho, Manor Solomon, Eyal Golasa – Eran Zahavi, Munas Dabbur. (5-3-2)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
Even though they often struggle against the strongest sides, Scotland haven’t lost a competitive home game to a team ranked outside FIFA’s Top 25 – such as opponents Israel (currently #93) – since October 2005 and are +135 favorites to beat the Israeli team in regular time.
Despite the late coronavirus setback in Scotland’s camp, we believe that the Scottish side has the overall quality and passion to prevail and we’re backing the home side to win.
Spooky Express Free Play: Scotland +135 @ Intertops for 5/10 Units