Hampden Park - Nations League
Scotland were taught a bit of a lesson by Belgium on Friday night, but they face a team much closer to their level in this game. Can the Scots get the victory against Albania that the Tartan Army will expect?
These teams have never faced each other before, so this opening weekend of the inaugural UEFA Nations League is making history on a number of levels.
Scotland lined up in a 3-4-2-1 formation against Belgium, and Alex McLeish could stick with the same setup to try and get his players used to it. However, the Scottish boss could play a much more attacking side and start the likes of Leigh Griffiths, Callum McGregor, Stuart Armstrong and Robert Snodgrass together in attack.
Albania have a number of experienced players in their squad, including their four captains Jahmir Hyka, Ansi Agolli, Etrit Berisha and Mergim Mavraj. Those players have 214 caps between them, and the visitors will need all that experience if they’re going to get a result here.
Scotland v Albania Preview and Predictions
Alex McLeish’s side get their Nations League campaign underway with a game against Albania at Hampden Park on Monday. The countries have been drawn together in Group C1, with Israel the other team in the section.
Scotland will be eyeing promotion in the Nations League, but they need to get off to a good start in this opening game. McLeish and the Scottish FA asked a lot of their players with the friendly against Belgium, and despite plenty of effort, the Scots were totally outclassed by a team containing stars such as Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens.
Albania are much more similar to Scotland in terms of ability, and the hosts simply have to win games like this if there’s going to be a revival in Scottish football. The home team are priced at 4/5 to get a vital victory, with the away side at 9/2.
The Eagles got their own Nations League campaign off to a flyer against Israel on Friday night, with Taulant Xhaka - elder brother of Arsenal midfielder Granit - scoring the only goal of the game. A draw would be a decent result for the team managed by former Italy international Christian Panucci, and that’s available at 5/2.
Scotland to win to nil at
Albania aren’t big goalscorers, and while Scotland have a relatively young and inexperienced side, they are the favourites.
Leigh Griffiths to score first at 13/2
The Celtic striker is yet to score for his club this season, but has 100 goals in 190 appearances for the Bhoys and should start up front.