Scotland return to Hampden Park on Sunday for a friendly match with Portugal, shown live on Sky Sports from 5.00pm. This should be a bit of a glamour tie for The Tartan Army, pitting their wits against a major European side and one ranked seven in the world by FIFA, but morale has never been lower in the stands following a run of poor results.
Home fans, usually the most loyal and patriotic to be found on the international football circuit, are beginning to turn their back on a team who have failed to qualify for a major tournament since France 98. At least one generation of talented individuals have missed out on the chance to strut their stuff before a global audience, and it seems the population are screaming out – enough is enough!
Scotland Need to Bounce Back
Alex McLeish asked his boys to show some bottle on Thursday night when travelling to Israel in the UEFA Nations League. On paper, they were away from home but were in with an opponent ranked lowest of the three and the visitors had a chance to take control of the pool. They made a fantastic start, and there was a bit of bottle in the early stages, but it didn’t take long before fans heard the all too familiar sound of breaking glass.
Mulgrew rifled his side ahead from the penalty spot on 25 minutes after Steven Naismith had been hauled down inside the box. It came against the run of play but all they needed to do was stand firm and see the rest of the game out. Certainly not a big ask against a side on a woeful run of form, especially with the impressive Alan McGregor between the sticks. They couldn’t manage it.
Scotland’s lead lasted until the 52nd minute when Israel finally got the goal and the equaliser their play deserved. Peretz struck to level things up and there was to be one final twist in the tale, Celtic defender Tierney suffering the humiliation of scoring an own-goal that dumped his team right in it.
The beaten side finished the match with just 44% of the overall possession, two shots on target all night against the nine of their rivals and a red card, Souttar sent packing on the hour. A miserable night all round and as far as preparation for Portugal goes, it really couldn’t be any worse.
Bookies Take Note
Bookmakers had little sympathy for Alex McLeish and the long-suffering support, moving to price them up as outsiders to get the win in Glasgow. According to the market, a draw is the best the locals can hope for here and anyone who, for whatever reason, can’t separate Scotland and Portugal will be delighted to find 9/4 available at Ladbrokes on the level finish. Both teams to score rates as a lively alternative at 21/20 (888sport) considering Scotland have conceded nine goals in their last half-dozen matches.
A Scotland victory? Well, the majority of football fans would take some convincing before they’d consider putting good money on that outcome and I’m not sure it’ll even be popular with dyed-in-wool Scots, despite an eye-catching 10/3 available at Coral. If you do fancy a little flutter on Scotland that’s where you should do your betting as Coral offer market best price – there’s no better to be found at the time of writing.
Portugal Will Strut Their Stuff
Portugal arrives in Scotland unbeaten in their last three – two wins and a draw – and are within touching distance of what appears to be an achievable hat-trick. The Navigators were held by Croatia in a friendly match last month before improving to secure a quick-fire double over Italy and Poland.
Fernando Santos and his boys banked a hard-fought 1-0 over the Italians in the UEFA Nations League thanks to a goal from Valente Silva early in the second-half at Estadio da Luz. It was another one goal margin next time when edging Poland on the road in the same competition, battling to a 3-2 success.
Scotland and Portugal have met 14 times in the past and the head-to-head stats give a good indication of how this renewal should play out. Portugal lead 7-4 with three games ending in a draw. The most recent clash was settled 2-0 Portugal back in 2002, Pauleta netting a double. That followed a 5-0 the start before.
Portugal to win is the obvious choice here and it’ll do a job in your accumulators with 10/11 available with most firms, including Coral. That’s enough for us and it’s actually a good deal better than we expected to find, so the advice is – fill your boots. If you’re after a bigger price, why not try Portugal to win to nil again at 15/8 (Ladbrokes) or -1 goal on the handicap 12/5 (Bet365).
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