Malta v Scotland - Sunday 19:45, Sky Sports 2
Whilst former Scotland player James McFadden’s comments about possibly winning the group seem far-fetched after finishing fourth in their attempts to qualify for Euro 2016, Gordon Strachan’s side should have no problems at the first hurdle with an easy game against Malta.
At the very least it should mean a run out for right-back Alan Hutton and first choice central defenders Grant Hanley and Russel Martin – all unused substitutes for their clubs at the weekend. Strachan would have also much preferred Ikechi Anya to have seen more than just nine minutes of game-time in the Premier League at Watford.
In addition to the lack of game-time of some of his squad, Gordon Strachan will have been frustrated by the injuries that have beset his side. Key striker Leigh Griffiths already has seven goals for Celtic this season and will be sorely missed, as will Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur whilst Andrew Robertson should come in at left back for Kieran Tierney. In-form Hull midfielder Robert Snodgrass will hope to prove his fitness after an ill-advised clash with the goalpost, and another attacking player in Fulham’s Kevin McDonald has also had to pull out.
However, Malta have lost 20 of their last 25 matches and failed to score in 15 of their last 19, so Scotland should be confident of the win to nil at 2.25 even without some of their star players. A combination of Barry Bannan, Matt Ritchie, Darren Fletcher and in-form wingers James Forrest and Oliver Burke are set to dominate the middle of the pitch, whilst up front Steven Fletcher and Steven Naismith have the required experience to lead Scotland to an essential victory. At 6.0 to score anytime, the former is well priced.