WITH the resumption of the Nations League this week, many Scots will be looking forward to finally seeing the National Team in TV action in a crunch game against Israel, to try and qualify for EURO 2020, which has now been pushed back to next year.
The squad sees the return of John McGinn and Kieran Tierney after injury – and after Lyndon Dykes chose to represent Scotland over Australia, the QPR forward has been given his first call up from Steve Clarke for the games against Israel on Friday and the Czech Republic on Monday.
Winger Ryan Fraser has been left out of the squad, likely due to the lack of game time since lockdown after rejecting a contract extension with Bournemouth in hopes of a move elsewhere with Newcastle in the hunt.
The possibility of fans being trialled at Hampton Park on Friday brings a new meaning to the game, and with the chance of fans being in attendance, it could really give Clarke and his team a needed boost for the game – after months of hardship and uncertainty, the possibility of EURO Qualification with fans in the stadium should be plenty to spur the team on against Israel.
Israel will be going into the game with high hopes but as slight underdogs in the 888 latest football betting odds, with some of their call ups not going unrecognised – Hibernian goalkeeper Ofir Marciano and Celtic’s Hatem Abd Elhamed and Nir Bitton all earning a spot for the countries game against Scotland, so how might the two countries lineup?
It is expected that both teams will opt for a three at the back, with Israel usually preferring a 3-5-2 formation to favour their wingbacks Taleb Tawatha and Eli Dasa, providing them with great goalscoring prowess up top in the form of Eran Zahavi and Moanes Dabour.
Scotland’s back three will consist of Scott McKenna centrally, Liam Copper on the right, and Kieran Tierney on the left – this gives way for Andy Robertson to play at left-wing-back to provide the likes of McBurnie and Dykes attacking options from the left with his delivery into the box, which he is known for at Liverpool. James Forrest will be a guaranteed starter – the right midfielder has been in fine form for Scotland, scoring 3 goals in his last 3 games for the National Team.
Clarke and his men will be expecting a good display from Israel’s forward line, hence the defensive reinforcements with the back three and Robertson and Forrest’s speed and physical capabilities out wide.
Players to watch out for…
Scotland – James Forrest will be the obvious player to watch out for in the Scotland squad. Last season saw Forrest record 10 goals with 17 assists for Celtic as they won their record 9th league title in a row, with the midfielder playing a huge part in the season for the club. The hope is that Forrest can carry this form over into the National Team, with the game against Israel being a must win for Scotland – and if the midfielder is on form along with the rest of his teammates, it’ll be a night to remember at Hampton Park.
Israel – Eran Zahavi has been in fine form for both club and country last season – the 33-year-old finished last season with 29 goals in 28 games for Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F, and has carried that form over into the new season too, with 4 goals in 7 games. The striker also finished top goal scorer in Group G in the Euro 2020 Qualifiers, in a group that contained Polish goal machine Robert Lewandowski, with Zahavi almost doubling Lewandowski’s goal tally. The Scotland defence will likely have their hands full, but with a wealth of quality and experience in McKenna, Tierney and Cooper, they will fancy their chances, as will the Scotland fans.
Score Prediction – Scotland 3-1 Israel
Despite many feelings this to be such a tightly contested game, I can see the Scots edging this one out at their home ground. If there is to be a small number of fans allowed into Hampden Park to watch the game as a trial, expect it to make all the difference. After almost 5 months of fans not being able to attend live games, the tension and excitement will provide for some of the best support you might see for a long time, after the absence of fans being so evident, the opportunity for the team to play in front of a crowd once again will spur them on indefinitely – and likewise for the fans themselves.
Expect goals from Forrest and McGinn, the Aston Villa midfielder has returned from injury and will likely be chomping at the bit to turn out in the tartan blue once more. Likewise, with Forrest, with the aforementioned form of the 29-year-old, mixed with the importance and tension the game will present, I expect the boys to show up with their best form to provide a comfortable victory. Israel will likely see a goal come their way through that of Zahavi, but only a consolation in turn from a stellar performance from Scotland.
Whatever the score, it’ll be great to see Clarke and his men turn out at Hampton Park once more – but let’s expect a strong performance and result, nonetheless.