THERE’S been plenty to celebrate since Steve Clarke became Scotland gaffer but the Tartan Army have been made to wait for a proper Hampden hooley.
When 23 years of hurt ended in the play-off final for Euro 2020, punters had to watch the action in Belgrade from the living room, fearing Covid-19 almost as much as another glorious failure.
And when we hosted two games at those finals only a few thousand were allowed in to watch painful defeats to the Czech and Croats.
Hampden has been bouncing since then for epic wins over Israel, Denmark and Spain but each time there were nagging doubts that it would count for nothing and Scotland would find a way to mess things up again.
Even when the SFA threw a big bash to celebrate their 150th anniversary, the Auld Enemy spoiled the party faster than someone armed with a CD of Wet Wet Wet’s Greatest Hits.
The pain of that defeat was soon washed away when Steve Clarke’s boys qualified for another Euro finals but our ticket was stamped thanks to Spain beating Norway over in Oslo.
The Tartan Army had to crack open the carry-oot in front of the telly again but they have a chance to celebrate properly tomorrow when Norway come to Hampden.
It looked like Clarke’s troops would head into that game off the back of four successive defeats when they trailed 2-1 in Georgia heading into stoppage time on Thursday’s night.
But Lawrence Shankland’s late leveller gave the travelling Tartan Army something to celebrate and Scotland will go into the final group game on a high.
Norway have nothing to play for, are without skipper Martin Odegaard and will have a rookie between the sticks so the 11/10 available at McBookie for a Scots win looks good value.
You can never write off a side with Erling Haaland up front but he’s also a doubt after picking up an ankle knock.
Haaland is a tempting 13/8 with Paddy Power for a goal but might sit this one out.
We should see goals at both ends and I like the 6/5 on offer at QuinnBet for over 2.5 strikes.
Unibet also have some good prices for a shot on target. Scott McTominay is 5/4 to test the keeper and Lyndon Dykes 19/20.
Wales are looking to join Scotland and England at the finals and a rousing win over Croatia last time out has left their fate in their own hands.
All they need to do is win their final two games against Armenia and Turkey but neither of those matches is a gimme.
The Armenians claimed a shock 4-2 victory in Cardiff and still have a chance of qualifying as they sit just three points the Welsh and Croats.
There will be a hostile crowd in Yerevan so Armenia look overpriced at 3/1 with McBookie to stun Wales again.
The Republic of Ireland are already out of contention and things could get ugly for them away to a Dutch side looking to seal qualification.
Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo has netted twice in the group and looks a good shout for anytime scorer in this one at a best 13/8 with Unibet.
- Scotland to win (11/10, McBookie)
- Dykes shot on target (19/20, Unibet)
- Over 2.5 goals (6/5, QuinnBet)
- Armenia to win (3/1, McBookie)
- Gakpo goal (13/8, Unibet)