Scotland vs Malta
Monday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Scotland need a favour from the Auld Enemy
Monday night and the second leg of a three-match run that will decide if the Tartan Army can book their tickets to next year's World Cup in Russia, or if it'll be another major international tournament spent as nothing more than interested bystanders.
Gordan Strachan's side turned on the style to blow away Lithuania on Friday, meaning they are now just four points off second placed Slovakia. Scotland host Malta in Glasgow, they then welcome their nearest rivals for qualification to Hampden in October. A win is expected vs Malta - the locals are currently no more than 1/20 on the sportsbook, 1.08 on the exchange - but they also find themselves in the unique position of needing a favour from the Auld Enemy.
Gareth Southgate's Three Lions play Slovakia at Wembley. Win and they would cement their place at the top of Group F, moving five points clear of Jan Kozak's side, while throwing their cousins north of the border a bone. It's not often the Tartan Army will ask England for anything - but beggars can't be choosers at this stage.
Strachan's side will line up against the whipping boys of the pool without the injured trio of Barry Bannan, Steven Fletcher and Tom Cairney, but they'll fancy themselves as having enough in reserve to get past the Knights of Malta. Impressive on Friday, goals from Armstrong, Robertson and McArthur made a potentially tricky trip to Lithuania appear easy.
Scotland haven't looked as sharp as they did on the weekend for a long time, but they are improving, coming agonisingly close to beating England at Hampden, before waltzing past Lithuania. Losing manager Edgaras Jankauskas said as much in his post-match media chat, telling the press that the victors are a better side than the one his boys got a draw against in the reverse, tipping them to qualify. Are Scotland hitting form at exactly the right time?

It's difficult to make a case for Malta
Strachan couldn't have picked a better opponent at this venue and at this stage of the tournament than Malta. The visitors jet into Glasgow airport showing a run of seven defeats from as many starts, 19 goals conceded and only two scored.
One of those did come against Scotland last year, a match they eventually lost 5-1 at the Ta'Qali National Stadium, but Pietro Ghedin's side did go into the break tied at 1-1 that day, Effiong cancelling out an earlier strike from Snodgrass. It's difficult to make a case for Malta getting anything out of this match, but an argument could be made for them finding the net again.
Malta lost 4-0 to England on Friday, but again they performed better than the final score would have you believe, going into the break with the score sitting at 0-0. England were expected to roll over the top of the footballing minnows, but they were made wait to the 53rd minute before Harry Kane broke the deadlock and the final three goals came after 85 minutes, and two in stoppage-time. Certainly not the pushovers they once were.

How many will Scotland win by?
Punters have a question to answer. Not if Scotland will win, but how. If they had lost to Lithuania three days ago this would have been little more than a meaningless kick-about in front of a half-empty stadium. But the Tartan Army believe again - they are in with a chance, no matter how slim, and that's all they ever ask.
A home tie vs Malta, with the match odds at 1.08 pushes us into a play on the handicap market, unless you fancy a shot at the 48.00 currently available on the exchange about an away day. No, of course not. The away side have conceded, on average, 2.7 goals per game. Backing Scotland -2 on the handicap goes at 4/6 (sportsbook), while those with a touch more confidence can take a chance on -3 at 17/10, also on the sportsbook.

Stats say goals, and plenty of them
The most intriguing market of the night will be the total goals. It's no surprise the betting expects over 2.5, which currently trades at 1.31 on the exchange, but we're happy to work a bit harder for our fix of the value. Thankfully, comfort can be taken in the trends.
If we accept that Scotland are indeed hitting their stride in Group F, there has been three or more goals scored in each of their last two starts - 2-2 vs England and 3-0 vs Lithuania. There were six scored when last lining up against Malta 12 months ago, and five the time before. With all to play for, the crowd arriving in high spirits and the players eager to send out a message to Slovakia, over 4.5 could be worth a play at 3.10.

Recommended Bets
Over 4.5 goals @ 3.10
Scotland -3 @ 17/10 (sportsbook)

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