Scotland aim to round off the group with a convincing home win. Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse previews Tuesday's clash...
Scotland v Kazakhstan Tuesday, 19:45 Live on Sky Sports
Defeat cost McLeish his job
The Scottish Premiership has followers gripped with Celtic and Rangers both locked on 31 points after a dozen games. The race for the title makes way for a final round of qualifying matches from Group I as Scotland welcome rivals Kazakhstan to Hampden.
There's nothing to play for here, with Belgium and Russia securing the major places in the pool, but this fixture does give the locals a chance to gain revenge for a humiliating defeat suffered at the Astana Arena back in March. That was the first game of the group and the first time the nations had met, the final result giving a surprise 3-0 win for the home team.
That embarrassment cost former manager Alex McLeish his job as Scotland manager, replaced by Steve Clarke. The latter now has a chance to prove the national team are heading in the right direction under his guidance and a strong home win would achieve just that.
Clarke's focus is on the playoffs
Scotland can't qualify from Group I, that much has been obvious for quite some time. They lost four games on the bounce, turning what was a tough job into an impossible one. They do have the chance to sneak into the Euro 2020 party through the back door, however. Scotland will drop into the playoffs, regardless of the result here, thanks to their efforts during the UEFA Nations League. It's all very confusing for most fans at this stage but, to put it simply, there's still hope.
Battling through the playoffs must now be Steve Clarke's focus and he will use this match to get a better understanding of where his squad is at. The manager has been hit by several big-name dropouts, which hasn't helped his cause any. Those missing include Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney. It's always disappointing to see players pull out of international squads but if it gives them a better chance of returning when things get serious then it's a sacrifice worth making.
Kazakhstan have struggled since
Kazakhstan got off to the best possible start with that stunning 3-0 win over Scotland in Astana and it was a result that suggested they may be the dark horse of the pool. Not much has gone right for them since, however, and they went on to lose five of their first eight. That makes the game one win all the more embarrassing for the Tartan Army. Kazakhstan made headlines when beating McLeish's dark blues back in the spring, but it'll be nothing compared to the surprise that would accompany a win at Hampden.
The visitors will arrive in Glasgow with no pressure, allowing them to go about their business as they take aim at a double. Yuriy Pertsukh had the ball in the net inside six minutes and that was added to by Yan Vorogovskiy who notched a second within four minutes. Scotland never recovered from that and despite TV pundits predicting a second half fight back, it was the hosts who reacted best to grab a third, Baktiyor Zainutdinov piling on the misery. Michal Bilek's men didn't see it as an upset and will be confident of repeating the feat in a half-empty Hampden.
Scotland firm favourites for revenge
A depleted squad makes things tough for Steve Clarke, but Scotland are expected to win on Tuesday, and they are firm favourites in the betting. Traders at Betfair have the home cheer available at 40/85 and that shows exactly how they expect this match to pan out. The locals will be popular in midweek accumulators but there's enough in that quote to give big hitters an interest as a super single for a bigger stake.
With Scotland preoccupied with the upcoming playoffs, there's no reason why Kazakhstan can't come to Glasgow and have a go. Their recent form makes an away win unlikely but the 6/1 offered on Kazakhstan is a generous offer and one difficult to ignore. Can't split them? You may find joy in backing the draw at 3/1.
Betting predicts a low-scoring match
The focus for Clarke in this final Group I match will surely be on tightening his defence ahead of the next phase. They conceded a dozen goals in two games against Belgium and Russia, something that must be addressed. They did do as expected in keeping a clean sheet when last at Hampden, beating San Marino 6-0. Kazakhstan failed to score in Belgium or Russia but did secure a 1-1 draw away to Cyprus in September.
No in the both teams to score on Tuesday is 8/15 favourite - another bet best suited to multiples. You can get 4/7 about this game producing fewer than 2.5 goals, with overs at 11/8. Those after more of a price should consider Scotland half time/full time at a decent 13/10 on the Betfair Sportsbook.