Weblog: The football punter

Naismith to set Scotland on path to away victory

Nations League
Sky Main Event, 7.45pm Thursday

Steven Naismith is set to lead the line for Scotland in Haifa and he can find the net as Alex McLeish’s men seek to make it two Nations League wins out of two.

With Leigh Griffiths missing the trip to Israel for the League C Group 1 showdown at the Sammy Ofer Stadium, Hearts forward Naismith should get the nod up front.

The former Everton marksman is in top goalscoring form for the Jambos, banging in nine league and cup goals this season, and also for the national side – he was on target in last month’s 2-0 win against Albania.

If Naismith is a decent bet to find the net then the Tartan Army might not be far behind to win the match.

Trusting the Scots on the road always used to be a perilous and costly pursuit but they are getting the hang of away games these days.

In World Cup qualifying they succeeded in Lithuania and Malta and went on to win in Hungary in a friendly. Ignore the summer losses at Mexico and Peru, where their squad was puny and they were up against two powerful sides heading to the finals in Russia.

Israel are a long way from powerful and look there for the taking.

Andi Herzog’s side, beaten 1-0 by an Albanian side the Scots went on to defeat three days later, have lost seven of their last eight. They have won just one home game – against Liechtenstein – in three years and have lost their last three at their rebuilt stadium.

There seems to be little faith in Herzog turning it around, although a warning shot was fired last week by striker Maones Dabour, who bagged two for Salzburg against Celtic in the Europa League. Dabour is in good form for his club – although they are clearly a miles better outfit than his country.

S Naismith first goalscorer

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Match in Focus

20:00 TODAY BT3

Atl Madrid v Juventus

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Atletico have won 12 of their last 15 home games
Expert verdict
Atletico Madrid and Juventus boast two of Europe’s meanest defences and there could be little to separate the pair in the Spanish capital. However, preference goes to Atletico, who conceded just one goal in winning their three home games in the group stage and can build a slender lead.