Georgia v Scotland – Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena at 17:00 live on Sky Sports 1
Scotland were another of the nation’s hopeful of qualifying for Euro 2016 after it was announced that the championships would be expanded to 24 teams for the first time in its history. That meant an extra eight teams would get to participate in finals.
This enlarged tournament format led to the need for both the top two finishers in all qualifying groups, plus the best third place team all directly claiming a their places in France next year. Plus, all remaining third place teams would enter a playoff round to decide who would complete the 24 team line up.
Naturally, the Scot’s were confident of making the most of this expanded format. However, they were unfortunate to be drawn in what can only be described as a ‘group of death’ and their Euro 2016 dream looked further away than ever.
Being drawn against Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland, certainly seems harsh when you consider England’s toughest group opponents are Switzerland and Slovenia. While Northern Ireland were drawn against Romanian and Hungary!
However, Gordon Strachan’s team have acquitted themselves well so far and with four games remaining, they still have a good chance of upsetting Germany or Poland by sneaking a top two finish.
In fact a win here in Georgia tonight could well see Strachan’s men climb into the top two places in Group D, because Germany and Poland face each other in Frankfurt shortly after Scotland’s match has finished.
Most important for the Scot’s of course is to win their remaining games and see where that takes them. Away against Georgia does not sound the most daunting of trips but, the hosts made life very difficult for Scotland when they played each other at Ibrox last October.
It took an own goal to separate the sides that night but Scotland’s dominance deserved more and Strachan will be quietly confident that his team will not waste their chances in this return match.
The Georgian’s have only won two of their last eight matches and those two victories came against the ‘footballing giants’ of Malta and Gibraltar! At home they have recently lost to Republic of Ireland, Poland, Germany and the Ukraine, so there is nothing for Scotland to fear this evening.
The likes of Shaun Malony, Steven Naismith, James Morrison and Steven Fletcher will be key to claiming a vital three points in Tbilisi tonight, where the Scot’s are chalked up as slight odds on favourites for the win.
The Georgians are sure to defend in numbers with the aim of keeping the match tight and trying to steal a goal on the break or from a set piece. This leaves it up to the Scot’s to try and break down their defence and although they are not the most creative team in Europe, they have a good habit of scoring goals.
They have scored in all of their last 12 games, which includes goals in Germany, Poland and against England. With that in mind and the value in the market, plus the fact that qualification is within touching distance, I like Scotland to grind out a critical win in Georgia here tonight.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Scotland -0.5 at 2.02
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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