Well, as an Irishman I can absolutely guarantee you that I’m not even slightly bitter at these two and their glorious penalty successes the other night. Not one bit.
The convenient thing about the UEFA Nations League is that with four-team groups, the tie-ins for form are quite blatant, especially given both Slovakia and Scotland overcame similar tasks in their play-offs.
Let’s see here – both drew 1-1 with Israel, but Scotland beat the Czechs on the road, while Slovakia were thumped by the same opposition in Bratislava. Of course, there is the argument that all this is trivial and that actually, two teams who have just gone 120 minutes apiece could be suffering from fatigue and play out a very boring encounter?
Especially during an international window that’s very taxing, and that nobody agrees with. It can’t be that straightforward, can it? Here are your three best bets.
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It’s not that these two are incredibly matched or anything. I’d nearly hand Slovakia the edge if their returning players get the all-clear because they’d be key and fresh. It’s just that tired legs and squads without real depth tend to struggle during multiple-game international breaks.
You can also argue that Slovakia would have taken a point from this game before a ball was kicked in Bratislava the other night, so you’d imagine nothing changes there. For Scotland, they’re already atop their group and have beaten the two sides behind them – albeit Israel on penalties during the week, but the point remains.
Will there be a degree of urgency from either when the lactic acid starts to build up on the hour mark? Probably not.
Just to confirm something – Scotland didn’t have a single shot on target on Thursday night at home against Israel. I’m not quite sure how they’ve managed to score goals in previous games given their complete lack of composure in the final third, or if caring less will somehow amend that frailty – but you couldn’t be confident in either of these teams netting here.
Slovakia’s attacking threat was limited to Ireland being over-zealous in midfield. Scotland won’t be anything of the sort.
I’m only adding this play in because of the off-chance there’s a late goal from an infusion on energy off the bench. That’s the only source I can see producing that. By taking the half-time market, we can alleviate that problem quite easily.
Remember when you played amateur football on a Sunday morning after being on the lash the night before, and your manager sussed you out after your opening five minutes where you fell over and picked the ball up? That, but in the UEFA Nations League.
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