Scotland will kick-off their UEFA Nations League campaign tonight against familiar foe Israel.
Steven Clarke’s men are back in action for the first time in nine months as they look to build to the play-off clash against the same opponents.
The countdown is on for the crucial triple header for the national side, but who will start the run with a win?
Lanarkshire Live Sport writers have their say ahead of the game.
It’s hard to predict this one because it’s either going to be a scrappy 1-0, almost certainly scored by a defender from a corner, or it will be a 4-3 spectacular.
The last time they played, Scotland won 3-2 (and with Allan McGregor making a late penalty save) but this is the first international game Scotland have been involved in for nine months, so I doubt either side will be totally up to scratch.
No fans is also likely to be a big factor, because I think even top level professionals find it hard not to treat games like this as a bounce game.
A win would be great for Scotland to get the Nations League campaign off to a good start, plus it allows us to get a look at Israel before we play them in the Euro play-off semi-final next month.
It will be interesting to see how the team shapes up, with Lyndon Dykes potentially making a debut, and Kieran Tierney in for the first time under Steve Clarke.
Tierney has had a great season with Arsenal and has looked good since coming back from lockdown, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he scored the winner.
Scotland 1 Israel 0
I expect this to be a tight contest.
Most games we’ve seen behind closed doors have had a real training-game feel about them and Scotland’s first appearance without the Hampden roar could make for a tepid affair.
Israel have lost their last two outings, against North Macedonia and Poland, while we are on a three-game winning run under Steve Clarke and I expect us to extend that, but only just.
I can’t see us keeping a clean sheet – we haven’t done so since November 2018 away to Albania when you exclude the absolute gimmes against San Marino – so there might be some nervy moments.
But I think the attacking threat in midfield from in-form stars like James Forrest and Ryan Christie will give us enough to get past the visitors, who will include their Hoops team-mate Nir Bitton in the back line.
Hopefully, Dykes gets his debut and I’d love to see him cap it with a goal.
Scotland 2 Israel 1
The game will set the bar for not just Scotland’s Group B UEFA Nations League campaign, but also a crucial three games against Israel.
The closed-door clash at Hampden will act as the support act for the first leg of the play-off next month before the away trip in November.
It’s important to set the tone for a hugely important spell for the national side under Steve Clarke.
Steve Clarke has the unenviable job of working out the Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney left-back conundrum now the former Celtic man has returned to full fitness with Arsenal.
I would expect the Gunner to play as on the left side of a back three as Clarke tests the waters of a new-look backline with Motherwell’s Declan Gallagher and Scott McKenna.
Now he is back playing regular football for the Steelmen, there is also hope for former Wishaw Wycombe Wanderers star Stephen O’Donnell to play down the right flank.
In contrast with the last high-scoring game, the focus will be on the defensive unit and a clean sheet as a building block for the ex-Kilmarnock boss.
Scotland 2 Israel 0
It won’t be a classic. That’s my prediction.
Then again Scotland games seldom are these days,
Who cares as long as we win though, and I’m feeling confident that Steve Clarke’s men have enough to grid out a result.
Twitter will be dominated pre-match by calls for Lyndon Dykes to start, followed by a meltdown when Oli Burke is preferred over the QPR frontman.
Dykes will get on with 15 minutes remaining, and Twitter will go into meltdown over the decision to include a guy who played for Livingston last season in a Scotland squad when he doesn’t find the net with his first touch.
On the football front Callum McGregor will finally get his long overdue first Scotland goal, with the Celtic man netting from one of only three shots on target in the game. A win’s a win and all that.
Scotland 1 Israel 0
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