Scotland head to Haifa to take on Group C opponents Israel in the UEFA Nations League in a match that could set the tone for both side’s qualifying campaigns.
While Israel have only won one of their last six – a World Cup qualifier against Lichtenstein October last year – Scotland come into this one off the back of a 2-0 win against Albania in their first Nations League match.
The sides have played each other three times – twice in World Cup qualifying back in 1981 and once in a friendly in 1986. Scotland have come out on top on each occasion, and will hope they can continue their strong start in this competition.
Our football betting expert gives us his thoughts ahead of the fixture.
Scots out for second successive win
Alex McLeish’s 3-5-2 formation worked well against Albania in Scotland’s first Nations League match, and many expect the former Rangers and Birmingham manager to stick with the tried and tested line-up for this one.
With Leigh Griffiths dropping out, Steven Naismith is likely to lead the line alongside Johnny Russell in attack. Despite James Forrest’s four-goal display for Celtic at the weekend, he’s likely to miss out on a starting berth for this one with Stephen O’Donnell and Andrew Robertson deployed in the wing-back positions.
With Naismith scoring two last time out against Albania at Hampden, and currently leading the Scottish Premiership goalscoring charts, Tartan Army supporters will look for him to lead by example and cause the Israelis problems.
Any result would be impressive for Scotland considering their dismal away record in recent qualifying campaigns, but if they have any intentions of topping this group then they will want to lay down an early marker and take all three points at the Haifa International Stadium on Thursday.
Scotland go into this match as underdogs with Grosvenorsport.com at 2/1.
Israel out to end losing streak
Israel manager Andi Herzog will be looking for a reaction from his team as they host the Scots for this encounter. They have suffered defeats at the hands of Northern Ireland and Albania away, while their home form of late includes losses to Romania and Spain, so they won’t treat Scotland lightly.
While the Israelis have leaked goals in recent matches, they still pose a threat in attack through the likes of FC Red Bull Salzburg striker Moanes Dabour, who has performed well in Austrian Bundesliga and Europa League competitions, as well as QPR’s on-loan striker Tomer Hemed who also has the potential to hurt Scotland.
There’s no question there’s more pressure on Israel to secure a result for this one, and while a draw wouldn’t be a disaster, they should use their home advantage to go for the win.
Home advantage and firepower of the Israelis means they are favourites heading into the match at 6/4.
Hard to split sides in Sammy Ofer Stadium
I think there will be goals in this fixture, and while Scotland’s away record leaves a lot to be desired, I’m going for a score draw on Thursday.
Scotland will take heart from their last match against Albania, and know that a point will leave them with a great chance of qualifying from their remaining group matches.
The Scots haven’t got an experienced defence, and I expect them to concede, but with on-form players like Naismith, Forrest, Stuart Armstrong and John McGinn in their ranks, they should have the belief to go out and get a positive result.