Strachan should seek repeat performance of Scotland win in Poland
Gordon Strachan was very careful to play down the nature of Scotland’s friendly win in Poland back in March, but another away victory at a tasty 7/2 on offer with Coral would go down nicely.
It is right to set that result in context. Poland were without prolific striker Robert Lewandowski that day and, moreover, had not just defeated neighbours and bitter rivals Germany for the first time ever in their previous outing.
Make no mistake, the hosts are worthy odds-on 10/11 favourites to send the Tartan Army home from this Euro 2016 qualifying Group D encounter with nothing to cheer. A 23/10 price says the game will be drawn. There is no harm, however, in Strachan trying to replicate the brilliant result from earlier this year.
Scotland skipper Scott Brown struck the winner some seven months ago, and is a 6/1 shot to net anytime again. National boss Strachan will be looking for more from front pair Steve Fletcher and Steven Naismith, with both strikers somewhat profligate in the narrow win over Georgia. Both are rated equal 7/4 chances to score in the match.
Blooding youngsters Ryan Gauld and Stevie May after giving them maiden call-ups for this round of qualifiers may be on Strachan’s mind here. If either is to be involved in Warsaw, then it looks like being as substitutes. Gauld is an 8/1 chance to net last.
Visitors Scotland will be forced to make a change in defence as Grant Hanley has withdrawn from the squad with a knee injury. Ipswich Town’s Christophe Berra, who has posed a potent set piece threat for his club this season so far, looks favourite to replace him in the Scottish backline, and is 16/1 to catch Poland cold perhaps in such a situation.
Other centre back options are open to Strachan, however, with Brighton captain Gordon Greer an alternative and uncapped Mark Reynolds of Aberdeen. Handing the latter a debut would be a bold move indeed, particularly with it being the left-sided berth next to inexperienced Andrew Robertson. Odds for a Scotland clean sheet of 14/5 reflect this news and selection headache.
Poland should start with both Bayern Munich poacher Lewandowski, who is available in a enhanced matchday special wincast at 5/2 (max stake £20), and Ajax loanee Arkadiusz Milik, the scoring hero against Germany, up front. The latter is a player clearly keen to make a name for himself. Aged just 20, precocious attacking talent Milik is 6/1 to net the opener here.
Left-footed attacking midfielder Sebastian Mila was also on target off the bench against Die Mannschaft last time out, and may be promoted into the Polish XI. He is 10/3 to score again anytime. Scotland should be wary of his experience, but there is also the wide threat of Waldemar Sobota to consider.
Behind Lewandowski and Mila, Club Bruges winger Sobota has the most international goals on Poland’s current roster. Odds of 11/4 say he will net in this match. History suggests a low-scoring affair, so why not take under 1.5 in the total goals market at 13/8? A 1-0 Scotland win comes in at 9/1.