Scotland opened their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan on Thursday afternoon, with Alex McLeish’s team producing one of the worst Scottish performances in history. McLeish is probably relieved that he has San Marino to face in Serravale next up, rather than having to face a trip to Belgium or Russia, the two heavyweights in Group I.
McLeish has had to cope with a raft of withdrawals from the squad for the game in Kazakhstan, though his squad will be boosted by the return of Liverpool left back and Scotland skipper Andrew Robertson. The captain missed the Kazakhstan game with a dental problem. Celtic’s Kieran Tierney will be absent with a groin problem, though.
San Marino opened their own campaign in typical fashion, being hammered 5-0 in Cyprus. They will have surely seen how poor Scotland were on Thursday, though, and will fancy their chances of at least frightening the Scots, if not beating them.
San Marino vs Scotland Prediction: San Marino 0-2 Scotland
Our prediction for this game is that Scotland will win it, but it will not be a great performance. It would be no surprise to see Scotland struggle to score in this game, rather than banging in the bagfuls of goals that most teams manage against San Marino. This Scotland side is very low on confidence, and key personnel are missing. The attack looked blunt and incoherent against Kazakhstan, despite some early flourishes from Oliver Burke. Scotland were also very poor defensively, and need to play as a team that looks like it has a plan and a structure on Sunday.
Our recommended tip: Scotland 2-0
Our featured tip for this game comes from Betway. They are offering odds of 11/2 on Scotland winning the game 2-0. We have picked this bet as Scotland have historically tended to win 2-0 when they play away at San Marino. The Scots have never lost to the Sammarinese, but their confidence is likely to be fragile after the debacle in Kazakhstan. The chances of Scotland scoring a bagful of goals look slim, given the form their forwards and midfield showed on Thursday. They should still have enough quality to manage to score at least twice against San Marino.
These two sides have met on six previous occasions in their history, with Scotland winning all six of those games. San Marino have never scored a goal against Scotland, while the Scots have managed 19 goals. The first time they met was back in 1991 in a qualifier for Euro ’92. Scotland won 2-0 that night in Serravalle, and went on to qualify for Euro ’92.
The most recent meeting between the teams was back in the 2000/01 season, when the sides played each other in World Cup qualifying. During that qualifying campaign, Scotland won 2-0 in San Marino, and 4-0 in Glasgow.
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Players to watch: Nicola Nanni & Oliver Burke
Nicola Nanni is San Marino’s 18-year-old striker. Playing up front for San Marino is a pretty thankless task, as chances are few and far between. The Sammarinese have scored no goals in their last six games, something which highlights the scale of their task against even a struggling Scotland side. Nanni plays for Italian Serie B side Crotone, so he has more professional experience than many of his team-mates.
In the first few minutes of the game in Kazakhstan, it looked like Celtic forward Oliver Burke might be Scotland’s game breaker. He made a couple of useful surges down the left side that brought some genuine threat to the Scots’ attack. He, like his team-mates, faded badly, though. Burke should enjoy himself against San Marino, with his pace and strength bound to cause the part-time players problems. McLeish will hope for a good performance from the youngster.