PRICE BOOSTS MAX BET £10
Scotland have built up some momentum with six wins from eight matches now, their longest unbeaten run since 1988, and they’ll be seeking to qualify for a first major tournament since 1998.
However, Steve Clarke’s side can rue their luck given they’ve dawn Serbia in these play-offs, with the Eastern European outfit the strongest left in contention, though Ljubisa Tumbakovic’s team aren’t always consistent.
Serbia are without a win in six matches over 90 minutes, through they did triumph in extra time when visiting an Erling Haaland-led Norway last month to reach this stage.
It’s worth noting that they’ve had slightly more difficult fixtures than Scotland of late though, facing a Ukrainian side that topped Portugal in qualifying, a Russian team that whipped the floor with Steve Clarke’s men during that process, as well as collecting a pair of stalemates with an improving Turkey.
The major disappointment was a 1-0 defeat hosting Hungary last month, but that was just their second home defeat in 17 appearances (W10-D5-L2), with the other inflicted by Portugal, so they should be expected to bounce back.
Although Man Utd’s Nemanja Matic recently retired from international duty and Sassuolo forward Filip Djuricic – who scored a brace the last time these two sides met – is missing through a positive Covid-10 test, the hosts certainly don’t lack star quality.
There were fears some of their Italian-based contingent would be force to sit out owing to local restrictions, but Aleksandar Kolarov (Inter) and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) have already linked up with the squad, while the likes of Dusan Tadic (Ajax), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) and Luka Jovic (Real Madrid) are all included as well.
Covid-induced absentees couldn’t prevent Scotland from taking maximum points last month in Nations League fixtures with Slovakia and the Czech Republic, as well as their all-important penalties win over Israel to reach this stage.
However, those are the best sides they’ve encountered on their unbeaten run, which began with victories over the likes of San Marino, Cyprus and Kazakhstan.
Serbia To Beat Scotland
Away from home, Scotland have lost six of their past 10 on the road, with their victories over this period coming over Albania, San Marino, Cyprus and the Czech Republic.
At least one team has failed to score in 16 of their past 21 trips, while they themselves have failed to score in 10 of their last 11 defeats on the road as five of these finished 3-0.
There aren’t too many goals in this Scotland squad and Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn is the top of the list with seven at international level, while Leigh Griffith’s is next best on just four.
Meanwhile, despite their star names, only three players in Serbia’s squad have more than three goals for their country, and with high stakes here we wouldn’t expect either side to come racing out the blocks.
Serbia should however edge this encounter. Aside from possessing greater options to influence the game from the bench, visitors Scotland have a couple of absentees to deal with.
Defender Grant Hanley sees his injury woes continue, but Ryan Fraser (who started the last two internationals in attack) misses out, so Ryan Christie will likely feature in attack again.