Scotland v Ukraine: Hosts will make up for lost time with a strong win

Scotland host Ukraine in this World Cup playoff semi-final with Wales waiting in the final. Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse previews...

The wait is over

Scotland host Ukraine at Hampden on Wednesday evening in the semi-final of the World Cup playoff, with the winner playing Wales in Cardiff for a place in Qatar.

The line-up for World Cup 2022 is almost complete, with the pack waiting for the result of the next two playoffs. Wales already booked their slot in the final, but the Scots were forced to wait with this tie postponed due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Scotland are the form team of the two, will enjoy the backing of a capacity crowd in Glasgow and have had much simpler preparation than their opponents. Will that translate into a home win for the Tartan Army?

Scots enjoy an unbeaten run

Scotland secured playoff football following a runners up finish in World Cup qualifying F behind runaway leaders Denmark. It was a slow start for Steve Clarke's side, but they eventually found their feet and were improving at the finish.

Scotland won five group games on the bounce, including a stunning victory over the Danes to wreck their dreams of an unbeaten qualification campaign.
The home team were last seen in action playing out a 2-2 draw with Austria in a friendly match back in March, just five days after finishing 1-1 with Poland in another game designed to keep the players sharp.

They were denied a win over Poland with a 94th-minute penalty and victory against Austria despite leading 2-0.

This is a huge game for Clarke and his team, with a win moving them closer to qualifying for back to back major competitions after making Euro 2020. They face Ukraine without Arsenal ace Kieran Tierney and Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack while Everton's Nathan Paterson is also doubtful.

Good news for the team comes in the form of a green light for Chelsea's Billy Gilmour and Liverpool's Andy Robertson, who will both feature.

Visitors need more time

Ukraine impressed during the qualifiers when finishing as the best of the rest in Group D behind comfortable winners France. Despite ending in second on a dozen points, Ukraine's form does little to inspire confidence in the visitors, with stats of two wins against six draws, scoring 11 goals and conceding eight.

They finished the pool with a flurry, taking seven of the last nine points up for grabs to deny Finland, who lost their last match and missed out. Ukraine haven't played a competitive match this year, with their last game coming in November, a 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina to bank a spot at Hampden.

With the off-field troubles in Ukraine, sport will be far down this team's list of priorities, and, in an ideal world, they'd postpone the match again. But that isn't an option, and we expect the visitors to be fired up but nowhere near full strength.

Scots to deliver at home

Scotland won their last five group games to secure second place and finish within four points of Denmark. They drew their last two games against strong opposition but ended level from a winning position, and we won't look too much into that.

The crowd will roar on Scotland, and their confidence will be enough to see them set up a final with Wales in a few days. We advise backing Scotland to win at odds of 2.4, and they should get the job done in regulation time. Another draw is 3.15, with Ukraine trading at 3.6.

The hosts haven't scored more than two goals since 9th October, finding the net twice against Moldova, Denmark and Austria. Under 2.5 goals is worth a second look at 1.59 or no in the both teams to score market at 1.81.

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