Slovakia vs Scotland
European Qualifiers – 2018 World Cup
Date: Tuesday, 11th October 2016
Kick-off at 19:45 UK
Venue: City Arena, Trnava.
A late goal from James McArthur rescued a point for Scotland from their home game with Lithuania on Saturday but it would still have felt very much like 2 points dropped rather than 1 gained. Ahead of the group the Scots were certainly very keen to pick up 6 points from their opening 2 games to take into tricky away games here in Slovakia and then in London next month. A 5-1 win in Malta was the ideal start but that slip-up at Hampden really ramps up the pressure on them to get a result here as failure to do so would already leave qualification for Russia looking like a very long shot.
They are not the only side under real pressure here though. Slovakia are yet to pick up a point following a 1-0 home defeat against England and 1-0 defeat in Slovenia on Saturday. They will be viewing this as a must win game but they’ve not really been that convincing in recent times. They made the last 16 at Euro 2016 but were well beaten by Germany and in an attacking sense they only really impressed for 45 minutes against Russia at that tournament.
Scotland will feel, and they may well be right, that if they can stop Marek Hamsik they can most probably stop Slovakia. He is their undisputed danger-man and it’s important the Scots keep a close eye on him. Slovakia are the favourites but that might just suit Scotland as it is often those niggly little games like Georgia away in Euro 2016 qualifying and against Lithuania at Hampden on Saturday where they slip up. Against sides that are roughly on their level, they tend to perform better and they picked up good draws in Ireland and Poland during Euro 2016 qualifiers and were very close to doing likewise in Germany.
With Slovakia having failed to score in their last 4 internationals, the Scots should have enough to get a result here too and therefore backing Double Chance – Draw or Scotland at 7/10 looks to offer value.
Head To Head
The sides have never previously met.
Slovakia will have faced all 5 sides from the British Isles in 2016 after this game. They are yet to win any of them though with 3 draws and 2 defeats. Scotland have only lost 2 of their last 8 competitive away games, winning 4 of them.
Jan Kozak has stated this is a must-win game for Slovakia so a more positive approach is likely from them than what we've seen in recent internationals. He didn't name a natural centre-forward in the side in Slovenia but Michal Ďuriš may be drafted in here.
Gordon Strachan is expected to make a few changes here following that weekend draw. Captain Darren Fletcher is definitely out with James McCarthur his most likely replacement.