In what is being labelled as Scotland’s most important Group I appearance so far, the Tartan Army will look to keep their EURO 2020 qualifying dreams alive when Russia make the trip to Hampden Park on Friday night.
While a routine 3-0 defeat away at runaway favourites Belgium may have dampened the mood in Steve Clarke’s camp after picking up back-to-back victories over Cyprus and San Marino, Friday’s hosts do still sit just three points adrift of sneaking into a lucrative second spot.
On the flip side, while fans around Glasgow might be calling for an immediate response from their side, a high-flying Russia have continued to catch the eye during qualifying.
Suddenly sat in pole position to secure a route out of Group I, Stanislav Cherchesov’s men have secured a trio of consecutive wins against Kazakhstan, San Marino, and Cyprus.
With Scotland starting to gain a reputation for their high-scoring encounters, you will be interested to know that seven of their last eight contests have produced over 2.5 goals at full-time and a similar result can be found at 6/4 with Ladbrokes.
Clarke reignites Scotland’s EURO 2020 hopes
Although Scotland may have opened their Group I campaign with an infamous 3-0 hammering away at Kazakhstan back in March, a result described as one of the worst in their history, new boss Steve Clarke has drastically improved the mood in their camp.
While Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay has praised the former Kilmarnock managers “amazing” attention to detail, the Scots are still seen to be a heavy underdog to secure an automatic route to EURO 2020.
Friday’s hosts are pencilled in at 7/1 with Bet365 to secure a top-two finish in Group I, comfortably behind Russia who sit at 1/10.
If Scotland are to refined a similar level that helped them clinch back-to-back victories over Cyprus and San Marino, then the Tartan Army could be looking for Celtic winger James Forrest to spearhead their charge.
Now scoring six goals in his last eight appearances for the Scottish champions, the 28-year-old can be found at 7/4 with SkyBet to extend that goalscoring run on Friday.
Elsewhere, although Clarke will be unable to call upon the likes of Kieran Tierney and Grant Hanley, fans around Glasgow will be glad to see captain Andrew Roberston make a much-needed return alongside West Ham midfielder Robert Snodgrass.
Russia continues to shine
Continuing to build off of their quarter-final finish out at the 2018 World Cup finals, that summers hosts have really surprised many over the last 15 months.
While Head Coach Stanislav Cherchesov may have seen his men open their Group I campaign with a 3-1 defeat against Belgium, Sbornaya have now played themselves into pole position to secure a spot at EURO 2020.
Including a 9-0 win over Group I whipping boys San Marino back in June, Russia have now won their last three qualifying matches on the bounce and no side across any group have recorded more strikes so far.
Elsewhere, one man to watch on Friday will be Russia’s captain and attacking talisman, Artem Dzyuba.
One of just a handful of senior players to not announce their international retirement and pledge their future to Cherchesov, the 31-year-old has five goals in his opening four Group I contests and will undoubtedly lead the line in Glasgow.
Expected to be joined by Monaco playmaker Aleksandr Golovin, you will be interested to know that Dzyuba can be found at 7/4 with Bet365 to find the net on Friday night.