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With England and Croatia expected to challenge for top spot in Group D, this is a critical encounter for both Scotland and the Czech Republic.
A bad start would be hugely demoralizing for either and as such, it’s likely to be a cagey affair between two sides with a similar standing in FIFA’s world rankings.
That’s especially the case given that Scotland aren’t built to take the game to their opponents. Steve Clarke got the Scotland job off the back of an impressive spell at Kilmarnock, where defensive resolve was the cornerstone of their success.
He also lacks a clinical marksman within the ranks and having led Scotland to their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup, he’s hardly going to alter an approach that has served him well.
The Czech Republic have lost the first half just once in seven appearances, going in level at the break in three of the last four.
Meanwhile, Scotland are unbeaten in their last eight home games and trailed at the break in just one of those, so a first half stalemate appeals.
In fact, Scotland have lost just two of 16 matches now, home or away, with both of those narrow 1-0 defeats.
They actually won both clashes with the Czech Republic over this period in the Nations League, though in truth they spent much of those two encounters under pressure, while the Czech’s were robbed of their regulars in the first meeting due to a coronavirus outbreak, as just two of their squad on that occasion had previously been capped.
Half With The Most Goals (2nd Half)
Only one of Scotland’s past 13 matches have been settled by more than a single strike, as have 12 of the Czech Republic’s last 17, so we certainly wouldn’t expect either side to run away with proceedings.
Indeed, six of the Czech Republic’s past nine fixtures have seen under 2.5 goals land, with four of these finishing 1-0 to one team or the other, while there have also been fewer than three goals in eight of Scotland’s last 11 outings as six featured just a single strike or less.
With a draw unlikely to help either side’s chances of advancing to the knockouts, this game could potentially open up in the second period.
There have been five first half goals across Scotland’s past five matches, compared to 10 second half strikes, so we may be treated to more action after the break.