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Best Bets for the Weekend Qualifiers

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Hampden was a fortress for Scotland in the World Cup qualifiers and Steve Clarke will need it to stay that way as he plots a path to another Euro finals.

The road to Germany 2024 begins with a double-header against Cyprus and Spain in Glasgow that will set the tone for another difficult group.

Having worked so hard to get into Pot Two for the Euro draw it was almost inevitable that the Scots would still get an absolute snider of a section.

That’s how it panned out as we landed Norway from Pot Three and were handed the daunting task of going up against Europe’s deadliest hitman in Erling Haaland.

To make matters worse we also landed Georgia from Pot Four, pitting Clarke’s defence against Napoli wonderkid Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

There’s plenty of potential pitfalls ahead but Clarke’s side at least begin with what should be their easiest game today as the Cypriots come calling.

They last visited Hampden in 2019 for Clarke’s first game at the helm and he needed a late goal from Oliver Burke to salvage a 2-1 win in front of a crowd of just 30,000.

There’s likely to be close to a full house for this one and that tells you everything you need to know about the team’s
resurgence under Clarke.

Scotland were unbeaten at home in their qualifying group for Qatar 2022, with even top seeds Denmark copping a 2-0 defeat in Mount Florida.

Che Adams scored a memorable clincher that night and the Southampton man looks to be Clarke’s biggest threat this afternoon.

He reported for duty off the back of a goal against Spurs that helped Saints claim a thrilling 3-3 draw with Tottenham.

That took his tally for the season to 11 and Adams is 11/10 at McBookie for anytime scorer against Cyprus.

Clarke should go for his 3-5-2 system again with Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson both available.

Skipper Robertson will bomb forward down the left and that makes him a good shout for an assist at 11/4 with McBookie.

Cyprus drew 2-2 with Northern Ireland in Belfast in the Nations League and also won 3-2 away to Israel in a friendly last year.

That suggests the Scots won’t romp it and I like the 10/11 at Paddy Power for a total of two or three match goals.

Spain are McBookie’s 1/3 favourites in the other group game against Norway and that’s understandable with Haaland missing out due to injury.

The Norwegians were poor in the Nations League so I’m on Spain at -1 in the handicap as they look to give new boss Luis de la Fuente a flying start.

Wales have a tough opener in Croatia as they begin life without Gareth Bale.

The talismanic striker chucked it after a World Cup campaign that ended in bitter disappointment for Rob Page and his men.

Hopes were high after Bale netted a penalty leveller against the USA in their group opener but the Dragons then lost to Iran and England without even scoring.

They still look light up front so a Croatia win to nil appeals tonight at 7/5 with BetVictor. I also fancy the Croats to be winning at half-time and full-time, with that bet paying a decent 32/21 at SBK.

These nations faced off in the last Euro qualifying campaign and the two games averaged just 3.5 corners.

That makes under nine corners tonight worth a look at evens (Bet365).

England are back in action tomorrow as they host Ukraine, with the Three Lions heavy favourites at 1/3 (McBookie).

It ended 4-0 to Gareth Southgate’s men when these sides last faced off at Euro 2022.

England are usually strong at home in qualifiers so I’m on them in the handicap at -1, which pays 10/11 at Betway.

Super singles

  • Adams to score (11/10, McBookie)
  • 2-3 goals at Hampden (10/11, P Power)
  • Croatia HT-FT (32/21, SBK)
  • England -1 handicap (10/11, Betway)

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