The Auld Enemy meet again, as England vs Scotland come face to face in a World Cup qualifying match at Wembley Stadium on Friday night.
England come into this match sitting top of Group F, having failed to play well in any of their three games. A 95th minute goal from Adam Lallana was required to win in Slovakia and the 2-0 home win over Malta was straight forward but failed to get the crowd off their seats. The 0-0 in Slovenia was poor and Gareth Southgate knows he needs a good performance from England, if he is to win over the fans.
Scotland have also been poor of late, losing 3-0 in Slovakia and being held to a 1-1 draw at home by Lithuania. The 5-1 drubbing of Malta in the first round of group games seems a long time ago for Gordon Strachan and he needs a positive result, to win back the affection of the Scottish media and supporters.
There is no hiding the fact England’s performances at both the 2016 European Championships and 2014 World Cup were poor. However, that does not take away from their qualifying record, which has been excellent. England have won their last ten home qualifying games and are undefeated in their last twenty, statistics which underline their strength when it comes to qualifying. Therefore, it’s little surprise to see England come in at 4/11 favourites to win the match.
Look a little deeper into England’s recent home qualifying record and it becomes clear defence is the key to success.
England rarely romp away to victory during qualifying games but what they do well, is keep things tight at the back. They have conceded 3 goals in their last eleven home qualifying games and with Scotland struggling to find the back of the net in their last two matches, Southgate should feel confident about keeping a clean sheet. England to win the match to nil is on offer at Evens.
As mentioned above, England fail to take teams apart, even when playing against weak opposition such as Malta. This will give Scotland a glimmer of hope, as they look back to the 1-0 victory in 1999 for inspiration. Scotland failed to qualify for Euro 2016 but more than held their own against some tough teams in their group. Scotland lost both matches against Germany but only by a single goal, held Poland to a draw both home and away and took 4 points off the Republic of Ireland, who eventually qualified for the tournament.
Therefore, Scotland should not be written off but if they are to take something from the game, it’s not going to be by way of an attacking performance. Expect Scotland to defend in numbers and attempt to hit England on the break. Strachan will know the longer Scotland can keep the score at 0-0, the more frustrated the home crowd will become and this will add to the pressure already being felt by many of the England players. Ladbrokes offer 9/1 for the match to finish 0-0.
The current group of England players do not manage expectation well and they will be expected to go out and defeat Scotland but we saw what happened against Iceland at Euro 2016. If Scotland can create a feeling of this match being a one-off occasion they might have a chance but England must be favourites to grind out another win. England vs Scotland prediction – England to win by 1 goal can be backed at 12/5