World Cup play-off preview: Scotland v Ukraine betting tips
The domestic season is done and dusted and all roads lead to Qatar 2022 as we pick out some Scotland v Ukraine betting tips.
‘Bet with your head and not your heart’ is an adage so old it was floating around the last time the Tartan Army marched at a World Cup – but it will be impossible not to feel the strings tugging and the spine shivering when the teams walk out in Glasgow.
Postponed in March following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the match will finally kick off at 7.45pm on Wednesday, June 1 at Hampden Park and will be shown live on Sky Sports.
Scotland and Ukraine the best of the rest on the road to Qatar
Scotland and Ukraine were always playing for second place in their groups, behind Denmark and France respectively, but the bridesmaids had their moments.
Scotland’s hard-fought 1-0 win in Austria last September was crucial and they had to dig deep to twice come from behind and see off Israel 3-2 a month later.
They then saved their most impressive performance for last in the home win over the Danes which secured a seeded berth in the play-off.
Big moments in big games 💪
That’s what this squad is made for 🏴 pic.twitter.com/D8aojZE161
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) May 24, 2022
Ukraine snatched their play-off spot with a win away at Bosnia and Herzegovina in their final match, having twice drawn with world champions France and finishing the group unbeaten.
That record doesn’t look quite as impressive though when a peek at the final table shows they won just two games – their other victory was in Finland – and drew six. Nevertheless, their results on the road will be giving Scotland boss Steve Clarke plenty to ponder.
Former West Brom, Reading and Kilmarnock boss Clarke has always tried to make his teams hard to break down and with Scotland he has taken it to another level.
They have not tasted defeat since losing in Denmark last September, their only loss in the group, and won six on the spin straight after Copenhagen before friendly draws with Poland and Austria in their most recent outings.
Going back a bit further, to last summer, Ukraine made it to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 after Scotland crashed out at the group stage but, like Scotland, they lost two of their three group games.
Ukraine’s solitary group win came against the tournament’s lowest-ranked nation – North Macedonia – and they sneaked into the knockout stage as the fourth-best third-placed team.
They edged Sweden in extra time in the last 16 before going down 4-0 to an England team who were held 0-0 by Scotland at Wembley earlier in the competition.
Ukraine sit 12 places higher in the FIFA world rankings, in 27th, but recent form edges the needle towards the hosts, who are 6/5, in our Scotland v Ukraine betting tips.
The visitors are 23/10 and the draw is available at 2/1.
Scotland v Ukraine team news
Clarke had to name his squad without the injured Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney and Norwich midfielder Kenny McLean while Ukraine’s home-based players have had little action since their domestic football was suspended following the invasion.
They gathered in Slovenia at the start of May and beat Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach in a warm-up match.
Clarke said: “We all understand and respect the position of the Ukrainian team. Fortunately for them they’ve managed to get out of the country and get their players into a training camp. They’ve been playing matches and they’ll be ready for the game.
“The most important thing for me as the Scotland head coach is to make sure we’re ready for the game, and we will be ready. Both teams will be ready to go on June 1.”
McGinn can lead by example again
John McGinn and Lyndon Dykes bagged four goals each in the Scots’ qualifying campaign while Che Adams weighed in with three.
They are all worth considering for Scotland v Ukraine betting tips with McGinn the pick of the bunch at 6/1 for the opener and 14/5 at any time.
Scotland have also been sharing the joy around, with defenders Grant Hanley, Jack Hendry, John Souttar and Nathan Patterson all scoring in Group F while Tierney was on target in the friendly against the Poles.
“I think you can feel it within the camp, within the group, within the country as well, there’s something building here.”
John Souttar talked-up the feeling amongst the Scotland squad at a pre-camp training session 🏴 pic.twitter.com/3T19MisebP
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) May 23, 2022
Captain Andy Robertson has not scored for his country since a screamer against Cyprus in Clarke’s debut almost three years ago but after two goals in his final four Premier League games, Liverpool’s flying full-back is worth considering. He is 25/1 to break the deadlock and 11/1 to score at any time.
It’s been a while
Ukraine last appeared at a World Cup in 2006 while Scotland fans are desperate to see their team back on the biggest stage for the first time since France 98.
There will be more than 50,000 fans at Hampden and while they, like the rest of the world, will show their support for the people of Ukraine, it is the hosts they will be backing.
The Hampden roar on an emotional night will be louder than it was after Scott McTominay’s last-gasp winner against Israel and that support can see the team through to a Cardiff showdown with Wales just four days after this one.
Scotland by two goals sounds about right and correct score backers might fancy the 9/1 for 2-0 or the 22/1 for 3-1.
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication