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Czechs can carry continental momentum into Scotland showdown

Robbie Purves | March 23, 2016

Czech Republic v Scotland

  • International Friendly
  • Thursday, February 24th
  • Kick Off: 19:45 GMT
  • Generali Arena, Prague
  • Live on Premier Sports

In-form Czechs to beat soul-searching Scotland

Czech Republic will host Scotland’s finest on Thursday in Prague as Pavel Vrba’s men look to build upon their qualification for Euro 2016.

The Czechs are coming off a fantastic 3-2 win away against The Netherlands and have won an impressive four of their last six games and come into the clash with Scotland as odds-on 8/11 favourites with Coral.

(L-R) Tomas Necid of Czech Republik, Jeffrey Bruma of Holland during the EURO 2016 qualifying match between Netherlands and Czech Republic on October 10, 2015 at the Amsterdam Arena in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Scotland have lost four of the last six encounters between the two nations and been beaten in every game in the Czech Republic since its formation in 1993. This record look set to continue, as the Tartan team have won just once in their last five games.

Necid to net against Strachan’s side

Striker Tomas Necid is in-form with Turkish club Bursaspor, scoring and impressive 11 in 22. Once the bright young thing of Czech football, it is refreshing to see him rebuilding his career after an injury nightmare.

Necid is 6/1 to score first against Gordon Strachan’s struggling side.

Tomas Necid of PEC Zwolle during the Dutch Eredivisie match between PSV Eindhoven and PEC Zwolle at the Phillips stadium on April 10, 2015 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands

However, Scotland have only failed to find the net twice in their last 16 games, a remarkable statistic when you consider how poor they have been of late.  Czech Republic have conceded in each of their last nine home fixtures and are 13/4 to concede but win in the Czech capital .

Ross McCormack looks to be Scotland’s best threat going forward, after Steven Fletcher and Steven Naismith pulled out through illness and injury. Influential Fulham forward McCormack has scored 21 goals in 41 appearances for his club this season and is 7/1 to score last against the Czechs.

After the withdrawals of Naismith and Steven Whittaker, Darren Fletcher and Alan Hutton are the only remaining players left from the last time Scotland played in Prague in 2012 after Craig Levein infamously used the ultra-defensive 4-6-0 setup and still lost.

Sparta success key to Czech triumphs

Relative minnows Sparta Prague recently caused an upset, eliminating Serie A heavyweights Lazio from the Europa League 4-1 on aggregate.

Sparta Prague's players celebrate their 3-0 win over Lazio, at the end of an Europa League, round of 16, second-leg soccer match, at Rome's Olympic stadium Thursday, March 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Their squad is packed full of Czech internationals and Vrba is prepared to keep picking them, perhaps looking to carry some club momentum into this international friendly with Scotland.

High-profile names such as Arsenal’s Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky miss out due to injury, while veteran midfielder Jaroslav Plasil has also been left out.

With 10 uncapped players over Scotland’s two international squads, several are likely to make their debuts either against the Czech Republic or next opponents Denmark on Tuesday.

However, even with the new faces, the Scots are looking to build on existing foundations with assistant manager Mark McGhee keen to stress the double-header of fixtures is not about experimentation.

Scotland fans in the stands during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi. Picture date: Friday September 4, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Georgia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the Scottish FA. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

Scott Bain, Kenny McLean, Kevin McDonald and Tony Watt are all in line to make their Scotland debuts in Prague, as Strachan’s men kick-off preparations for their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign after missing out on Euro 2016.

The Scots have now failed to make an appearance in a major tournament since 1998.

Related

Read our dedicated international football page in preparation for Euro 2016

Coral’s top tip: Czech Republic to win and both teams to score at 13/4.

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