IT takes a lot to make Steve Clarke smile but he’s in desperate need of some light relief as Scotland bid to end a slump in form by beating Moldova tonight.
Scotland v Moldova
Since the epic Euro play-off triumph that made a nation fall back in love with their football team again, Clarke’s side have won just one of their last nine competitive games.
And hopes of back-to-back major finals after 23 years in the wilderness are hanging by a thread with the Scots sitting fourth in their World Cup qualification group.
Wins over Moldova at Hampden tonight then Austria in Vienna on Tuesday are needed to get Scotland back on track for Qatar 2022.
And McBookie makes them 2/13 hot favourites to sink the Moldovans in the first part of the double-header.
⚽️ Read our full Scotland v Moldova Match predictions & tips
Roberto Bordin’s side were scudded 8-0 in Denmark and also lost 4-1 at home to Israel but made life difficult for Austria in midweek and only lost 2-0.
That match was delayed when a drone flew over the stadium but thankfully the only droning at Hampden today is likely to come from the Sportsound pundits.
A lack of firepower has been the biggest problem since Clarke took charge and my bet of a Danish win to nil came up in midweek. The Scots have scored just twice in their last five games so I’d be surprised if Clarke’s side ran riot today.
I can see it finishing either 2-0 or 3-0 and if you combine a Scotland win to nil with under 3.5 strikes in a McBookie bet builder it pays just a fraction under evens.
Scotland averaged 6.5 corners in their home Euros defeats to Croatia and the Czech Republic, teams who are far better than Moldova. That lends appeal to the 7/4 on offer at 888Sport for the Scots to win over 6.5 corners and score over 1.5 goals.
I’d expect Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams to start in tandem up front with Ryan Fraser and Andy Robertson supplying the
ammunition from the flanks.
Dykes has a good scoring record for Scotland and has been in fine form for QPR this season so he seems the best shout for anytime scorer at 21/20 with Unibet.
If Newcastle star Fraser starts in the wing-back role he looks decent value for an assist at 13/5 (McBookie).
Moldova picked up four yellows and a red when they crashed against Israel so it could pay to back them for cards here.
Over 3.5 match cards pays 4/5 at McBookie while Oleg Reabciuk, who was booked in midweek, is 13/5 to fall foul of the ref today.
Republic of Ireland v Azerbaijan
The Republic of Ireland hosts Azerbaijan today looking to bounce back from the crushing blow of seeing a famous victory in Portugal snatched from their grasp.
My midweek bet builder of a Portugal win with over 2.5 goals and over 6.5 corners looked doomed as the Irish led 1-0 in the last minute. But Cristiano Ronaldo rode to the rescue for both the Portuguese and my coupon as he netted twice to win it and become the leading international scorer of all time.
⚽️ Read our full Ireland v Azerbaijan predictions & tips
The Aviva clash with Azerbaijan is similar to Scotland’s game with Moldova as Stephen Kenny’s side have also lacked a cutting edge.
Ukraine v France
France bust plenty of coupons by drawing with Bosnia in midweek and now face a tough game in Ukraine.
Going for goals looks like the shout in this one and over 2.5 strikes are a good value at 6/5 with SBK.
England v Andorra
England smashed four past Hungary on Thursday and should fill their boots when they face minnows Andorra tomorrow.
Gareth Southgate will probably make a host of changes ahead of a more important game in Poland.
Patrick Bamford should feature at some point but the Leeds striker is too short for a debut goal at 2/5 with Unibet. To find the value you have to avoid the strikers and winger Bukayo Saka looks decent value at 11/10 to exorcise his Euro 2020 demons.
England took time to warm up in Hungary and it could be the same here.
So I fancy most goals to come in the second half at Wembley, a bet that pays 10/11 with Bet365.