Scotland come into this international break still fighting for automatic qualification into next summer’s UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, as they host second-placed Russia at Hamden Park.
Lose here then Scotland could be at least six points adrift of automatic qualification, before they face Belgium here on Monday night in a crucial match, which will determine whether they will need to rely on their automatic play-off spot if are to qualify.
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Scotland will be without Norwich defender, Grant Hanley and Liam Palmer of Sheffield Wednesday withdrew through respective groin and back injuries, whilst Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Steve Clarke has therefore called up Wednesday’s David Bates and Aberdeen’s Mikey Devlin, who could earn their first international caps here.
Russia’s Stanislav Cherchesov has a full squad available with Artem Dzyuba set to spearhead their attack.
- Scotland have drawn both of their two previous meetings with Russia, playing out a 1-1 draw in November 1994 at Hampden Park, before taking a goalless draw in March 1995 in Moscow.
- Those draws came during qualifying for Euro 1996, of which San Marino were in their group and both teams qualified unlike San Marino for the main tournament.
- Four of Scotland’s last five goals at home have come from players in the Scottish Premiership, with Andrew Robertson the only non SPFL player to score in that time.
Scotland are unbeaten in their last nine competitive home matches dating back to October 2015 but given Russia’s counter attacking style, I can see a defeat coming unless they are clinical with their chances.
Russia however have only won two of their last five away trips in all competitions, so I am going for a draw if Scotland don’t turn in a sloppy performance as they can often do.
Prediction: Scotland 1-1 Russia
Result: Scotland 1-2 Russia