UEFA’s bloated ‘week of football’ concept, designed to accommodate Euro 2016 qualifying matches between Tuesday and Thursday, returns for a less-than-rapturous welcome this weekend. Punters used to mulling over the likely outcomes of domestic contests must instead contend with another year of these intermittent interruptions as 53 nations chase the 23 places available at France 2016.
On Saturday, therefore, Scotland welcome Georgia, a nation they beat 2-1 courtesy of a last-minute Craig Beattie strike when the pair met at Hampden Park in a Euro 2008 qualifier.
Following Scotland’s excellent performance against Germany, bookies expect a comfortable home win, bet365 pricing Scotland at 4/5 to claim maximum points, with BetVictor rating the chances of Stephen Naismith opening the scoring at 11/2. Naismith’s pace and speed of thought have been a revelation at Everton and he’s 15/2 (Winner.com) to score a brace, while Stephen Fletcher is 13/10 (BetVictor.com) to find the net at any time.
Georgia, priced at 7/2 by William Hill to cause a major upset and beat Scotland, were unlucky to lose 2-1 to Ireland in their opening match, a performance which suggests that Saturday’s duel could be closer than many pundits believe; it’s a conclusion which enhances the appeal of Stan James’s 9/4 posted against the draw.
However, an examination of the correct score market suggests otherwise: one the most well-backed outcomes is a 2-0 Scotland win, priced at 6/1 by bet365.
In a contest where the opening strike could prove decisive, Scotland are Betway’s 4/7 favourites to score it. It’s worth noting that Paddy Power offer 5/1 against the Scots holding on to a slender lead and emerging as 1-0 winners.
Elsewhere, Skybet post 10/3 against Scotland securing a one-goal margin of victory, while Ladbrokes consider the chances of them emerging victorious following a drawn first half at 7/2. With matches against Poland and Ireland to follow, Scotland go into Saturday’s match priced at 3/1 (BetVictor.com) to secure a top two finish in qualifying Group D. A win at Hampden could see those odds shaved, especially if, as expected, Germany claim three points in Poland.