It’s hard to know which team is worse on the back of recent results and it could well be a case that whoever is ‘less bad’ on the night – wins.
Scotland’s 2-0 win over Albania last month sees them on top of the three-team Group 1 and a win in Haifa on Thursday night would put them in pole position to win the group.
But that victory was only one of two in their last six games (an away win over Hungary in a friendly was the other) and the absence of a not ‘fully fit’ Leigh Griffiths – after he was dropped for the Albanian win – could be a blow to the Scots’ goal-scoring chances.
Israel have been in shocking form. Their 1-0 win away to Liechtenstein 12 months ago is their only victory in a nine-game run now and there’s little evidence to trust them hitting on a winning formula by Thursday night.
Scottish victories have been thin on the ground also but they did at least test themselves in consecutive friendly defeats against Peru (a), Mexico (a) and Belgium (h). The win over Albania – who beat Israel 1-0 last month in this tournament – at least stopped the bleeding.
It could be uglier than Conor McGregor’s post-fight bust up, but Scotland draw no bet at 8/11 looks the safest play.
Robert Lewandowski will be fired up to win his 100th cap for his country but it could be Portuguese striker Andre Silva who grabs the post-game headlines in Chorzow.
A Ronaldo-less Portugal mightn’t be to everyone’s liking, but CR7 was also absent when Fernando Santos’ side beat Italy 1-0 last month in their Group 3 clash.
Silva scored the winner that night against the Azzuri and Sevilla’s star striker (on loan from AC Milan) sits second in the La Liga goal-scoring charts behind Girona’s Cristhian Stuani.
There’s a €35m buy-out clause if Sevilla are interested in a permanent deal and with seven goals in eight appearances. It could be money well spent.
Silva has come through the Portuguese under-age ranks and is firmly established in the senior side with 13 goals in 28 appearances despite the presence of Ronaldo.
For all the charges of boring teams to death, you can usually rely on Portugal to score, and they’ve rattled the onion bag at least once in 16 of their last 18 games.
The 2/1 about Silva in the anytime goalscorer market could give us a little bit more bang for our buck for Thursday’s treble.
The host nation exceeded expectation at the World Cup 2018 when eventually being knocked out by runners-up Croatia at the quarter final stage.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s side have continued where they left off and beat Turkey 2-1 away in their opening encounter before a 5-1 romp at home against the Czech Republic three days later.
Sweden meanwhile seem to be suffering a World Cup hangover since being eliminated by England last June. A 2-0 defeat by Austria in a friendly was exacerbated by a 3-2 defeat at home to Turkey when a goal ahead with just minutes to play.
Russia’s work ethic and team unity make them the safest option at 10/11 in the win-draw-win market over 90 minutes even though Sweden are positioned 31 places higher in FIFA’s rankings.
*Paddy’s treble: Scotland draw no bet @ 8/11, Andre Silva to score anytime @ 2/1 and Russia to beat Sweden @ 10/11 pays approximately 9/1. Prices correct at time of publishing.