THE Tartan Army are still raising a glass to the heroes of Belgrade after Scotland ended their 22-year exile from major finals by qualifying for Euro 2020.
But Steve Clarke’s players had to limit their partying to just one night as the focus switched back to the Nations League and tomorrow’s clash with Slovakia.
The importance of that tournament was hammered home when it offered the Scots a safety net after failing to land a spot at the Euros through the qualifying campaign.
Topping their Nations League group under Alex McLeish booked a place in the Euro play-offs and Big Eck’s successor steered us over the line with those dramatic shoot-out wins over Israel and Serbia.
Clarke has masterminded a nine-game unbeaten run and his side would also have made it four clean sheets in a row had Luka Jovic not netted a last-gasp equaliser in Belgrade on Thursday.
One of those unbeaten games was a 1-0 triumph over the Slovaks at Hampden and a repeat in the return would wrap up top spot in the Nations League group.
After such a draining night both emotionally and physically I would normally be wary of backing the Scots for another win.
But Slovakia find themselves in exactly the same boat after they defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 in extra time on Thursday to reach the Euros as well.
They also sit bottom of the Nations League group so this is a meaningless game they could do without and I’d steer clear of them at 17-10 with McBookie.
Scotland are 13-8 with the same firm to keep the feelgood factor going but I’m more drawn to the stalemate at 9-4.
I cashed in by backing a lack of goalmouth action when these sides faced off at Hampden and there could be a repeat here.
Under 2.5 goals pays 4-5 at McBookie and that’s decent value while under 1.5 strikes is 23-10.
Both managers will no doubt make changes so there could be some value in the goalscorer markets.
Stuart Armstrong didn’t feature in Belgrade but the Southampton midfielder might add some fresh legs here and is a tempting 18-5 at 888sport for anytime scorer.
The pick of the Nations League ties is today’s blockbuster between Portugal and France, a dress rehearsal for their group clash at the Euro finals next summer.
It’s the European champions taking on the kings of the world and I fancy Portugal to edge it at 11-8 with McBookie. France were embarrassed 2-0 by Finland in midweek while the Portuguese crushed Andorra 7-0.
These sides drew 0-0 in Paris earlier in the group but I fancy goals in this one and over 2.5 strikes pays 6-5 at McBookie.
A goal in each half is evens at William Hill while the same firm price over three corners for both teams at the same price.
England cruised to a 3-0 friendly win over Ireland on Thursday but won’t get it so easy against Belgium in the Nations League on Sunday.
Gareth Southgate’s men beat the Belgians 2-1 at Wembley but if the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard hit top form I fancy Roberto Martinez’s men to win at 7-5 with BetVictor.
Ireland’s trip to Wales also doesn’t promise many thrills but under 1.5 goals is only a best 11-8 with Betway.
Hurting Northern Ireland should lose in Austria tomorrow while on Sunday I fancy Denmark to see off an Iceland side also smarting from their Euro play-off loss to Hungary. Spain can complete a treble with a win in Switzerland.
Nations League Treble
- (23-10, McBookie)