Scotland v Czech Republic
19:45 Sky Sports Premier League
Scotland find themselves top of Group B2 at the midway stage of the campaign, but their position is somewhat deceiving. The Scots recorded a narrow 2-1 win over a third-rate Czech side that was forced to put together a whole new squad on a moment’s notice when their first squad was stranded in Slovakia due to COVID-19. The Czechs are currently one point behind the Scots in second place.
Having said that, Scotland are now undefeated in seven games and have progressed to the Euro 2021 play-off final, so they will be absolutely brimming with confidence. The Czechs, however, will head to Scotland with revenge on their minds and, all told, they are a better team than Scotland.
A win in Scotland will propel the Czechs back to the top of the group and, honestly speaking, would that really be the worst thing for the Scots? Remaining in the second tier of the Nations League guarantees Scotland easier qualifying fixtures and allows them to avoid humiliations at the hands of far superior nations. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Scotland fell to a home defeat against Czech Republic on Wednesday.
Don’t let the fact that Scotland have kept consecutive clean sheets fool you; Steve Clarke’s side are porous at the back. Prior to these two results, Scotland had failed to keep a competitive clean sheet against anyone who wasn’t San Marino since November 2018.
They conceded a whopping 19 goals in their qualifying group last year and conceded six goals in four games against Kazakhstan and Estonia. They even conceded against the Czech’s C team in Prague last month, even though almost every player was drafted in at the last moment and didn’t even make the initial squad.
The Scots only managed to keep a clean sheet on Thursday night because both themselves and Israel seemed visibly afraid of gifting opportunities on the counter in a dour game of football and only kept a clean sheet because Slovakia look even less capable of finding the back of the net than Ireland, but it should be business as usual on Wednesday night.
The Czech Republic, meanwhile, have hardly been watertight at the back, failing to keep a clean sheet in their last eight games. There should be goals on Wednesday night so Over 2.5 looks tempting.
Both sides appear to save their best goal scoring form for the second half. A total of 14 of the Czech Republic’s last 21 goals have come in the second period of games in a run stretching back to June last year.
Scotland, meanwhile, have scored 12 of their last 19 goals in the second half of games. It is entirely plausible that there will be more goals in the second half too. Scotland, who will be playing their third game since last Thursday, may begin to tire in the second phase of this crucial game and they could open up as the game wears on. Wednesday’s game could kick into life in the second half.
Tips for Scotland v Czech Republic on Wednesday at 19:45