Cyprus v Scotland – GSP Stadium at 14:00 GMT Live at Sky Sports
Scotland started their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign on the back foot with an embarrassing 3-0 humbling in Kazakhstan. That dreadful display, followed by an uninspiring 2-0 success over European whipping boys San Marino prompted the sacking of head coach Alex McLeish.
Steve Clarke was brought in from Kilmarnock with a view to reenergising the national team although the new boss found shifting momentum difficult in a trappy group. Four straight defeats against leading seeds Belgium and Russia ended Tartan Army hopes of progression via Euro 2020 qualification Group I.
Faith was only slightly restored following a 6-0 shellacking against San Marino and Clarke’s charges are now keen to end the current campaign on a high before tackling the play-offs in March. However, hopes of finishing with a flourish have been hit following another spate of senior players withdrawing from the squad.
Withdrawals make Scotland unappealing visitors
Arsenal asked for Kieran Tierney to be excused from the original squad despite the left-back now playing regularly for his club following hip surgery. Meanwhile, Scott McTominay, Ryan Fraser and Liam Cooper pulled out of the qualifiers with Andy Robertson not travelling to Cyprus with the squad for Saturday’s game.
Issues are therefore mounting in defence. Both Stuart Findlay and Charlie Mulgrew have been left out of the latest squad due to injuries, leaving options at centre-half and left-back limited. Considering the roster available to Clarke, it’s difficult to get on-board with Scotland at relatively skinny quotes here.
Clarke began his role with a win over Cyprus back in June but victory only arrived via a late Oliver Burke winner at Hampden Park and so opposing the Tartan Army for their trip to Nicosia is preferred. The hosts have lost all previous six meetings with the Scots but this could be their opportunity to shine.
Cyprus to avoid defeat
A solitary point separates the two teams in Group I and with seemingly little between the pair, it makes sense to side with the underdogs at 1.73 with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start. Scotland have struggled for any sort of consistency or confidence over the past 18 months and look vulnerable guests this weekend.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Cyprus +0.50 at 1.730
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.