With hopes of automatic Euro 2020 qualification all but virtually gone, Scotland visit second-placed Russia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, as the Tartan Army look to build some form heading into next March’s play-offs.
Russia meanwhile could move top of Group I if they can take victory coupled with a shock defeat for Belgium against San Marino.
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Russia will be without striker, Fyodor Smolov after the Russian picked up an injury during Saturday’s 2-1 home win for Lokomotiv Moscow over Arsenal Tula.
Smolov has therefore been replaced by Alexander Sobolev who has scored 10 goals in 12 games for Krylia Sovetov Samara.
Midfielders, Roman Zobnin and Rifat Zhemaletdinov are also sidelined with injury for the hosts.
Scotland will be without Liam Cooper in defence after the Leeds United star withdrew with a groin injury, consequently being replaced by Kilmarnock’s Stuart Findlay.
Norwich’s Grant Hanley is also out with a similar groin injury whilst Ryan Jack (calf) and Oli McBurnie (undisclosed) have also withdrawn.
- Scotland are winless in three meetings with Russia after suffering their first defeat against the 42nd ranked nation last month (D2, L1).
- Scotland’s only previous trip to Russia ended in a goalless draw in March 1995.
- Five different players have scored once each for Scotland throughout this qualifying campaign, although just two of their five goals have come away from home – 2-0 win at San Marino in March.
With their qualification hopes virtually gone, Scotland can afford to relax here against a Russian team who will be looking to top the group.
I am therefore hoping to see a stronger performance than what we have seen so far from Scotland, particularly if Steve Clarke decides to experiment given that this is now an ideal time for him to do so ready for the play-offs next Spring.
Russia however will be a difficult team to beat as often been the case against the Scots and I do genuinely see a home win because they need the points more than Scotland do.
Prediction: Russia 2-1 Scotland
Result: Russia 4-0 Scotland