Weblog: The football punter

Old-fashioned ding-dong could have repeat result

SPICY summer internationals are few and far between in non-major finals years so Scotland against England at Hampden offers some good, old-fashioned, old-school hostility to take our minds off the tennis.

It’s not quite a must-win game for the Scots but it’s definitely a daren’t-lose one – five points off second spot with four games left would be pretty much curtains and they know that.

The Celtic effect might lift morale – the only problem there being that the pride of Scottish club football’s best players are English and French. Only half a dozen Bhoys get into Gordon Strachan’s squad.

The fact is that Scotland arrived at Wembley in November confident of dousing the English flame and were soundly battered, losing 3-0. It was a third defeat in a row against the auld enemy, who they haven’t beaten since 1999.

All four of England’s wins in the campaign have been to nil and they didn’t conceded in the other match, either.

England look to be the bet but I can make a case for a bolder stance and backing the England win to nil.

An all Home Nations shindig is going to prove unmissable, though tie of the weekend is probably the game involving Wales, who are in Serbia.

The Welsh have somehow managed to work their way out of the qualification picture despite being unbeaten and another draw – a fourth in a row – in Belgrade actually won’t do them much good. It’s not a result that will do the Serbs too many favours, either, especially as they still have to go to Dublin to take on Ireland.

The Serbs made hard work of beating Georgia last time out and I can see Wales giving them a few headaches with the pressure on. Back the Wales-draw double chance.

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Match in Focus


Sevilla v Atl Madrid

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Sevilla have lost one of their last 36 home matches
Expert verdict
Atletico Madrid need to keep on winning to put the pressure on leaders Barcelona but they face a very tough fixture against Sevilla, who rarely lose at home. Sevilla dominated their 0-0 draw at home to Manchester United on Wednesday and can hold their own against Atleti, who have the second-best away record in La Liga.