Why Scotland can boost their Nations League hopes in Israel

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Scotland kicked off their UEFA Nations League campaign in perfect fashion on Matchday One, with a 2-0 win over Albania at Hampden Park.

After a slow start to his second stint as Scotland boss, Alex McLeish now seems to have his side clicking.

Ahead of their next Nations League clash in Haifa on Thursday, we cover why the Tartan Army should have high hopes again…

McLeish may have nailed it with 3-5-2

The 59-year-old has unsurprisingly switched between systems during his first seven months in the job, in a bid to find what suits his players best. And he appears to have found it.

The experienced Charlie Mulgrew is a rock in the centre of that defensive trio. Meanwhile, John Souttar and Kieran Tierney on either side of him offering pace and creativity in droves – linking up with the wide players in a talented five-man midfield.

McLeish’s first attempt at a 3-5-2 set-up produced a solid 1-0 victory in Hungary. The next saw a pretty routine defeat to World Cup semi-finalists Belgium, but it emerged again for victory over Albania.

Scotland forwards impressing at club level

This trip to Haifa couldn’t have come at a much better time for McLeish’s frontmen, with Scotland’s key attacking talents fit and firing right now.

Heart of Midlothian’s Steven Naismith has already chalked up nine goals and four assists for the Jam Tarts this term. And the combative striker was also amongst the goals against Albania.

Johnny Russell returned to goalscoring ways in MLS on Sunday. As for Oli McBurnie, he helped Ipswich Town on the way to their first win of the season on Saturday.

Israel in dire form

Having comfortably seen off an Albanian side who reached Euro 2016, this looks likely to be a much easier task – even with Scotland being away from home.

Andi Herzog’s side have won just one of their 10 games since the start of 2017 – a 1-0 victory in Liechtenstein.

Eight of those 10 matches have ended in defeat, including an embarrassing home defeat to Macedonia and a 3-0 loss at Northern Ireland.

With their only home wins since 2014 coming against Andorra and Liechtenstein, it’s hard to see past a Scotland win.

Match Odds

Ahead of Thursday’s game, it’s 2/1 for a Scotland victory. Meanwhile, the visitors are 7/2 to Win to Nil for the third time under McLeish.

Meanwhile, there’s sizeable odds on Scotland’s strike force firing on all cylinders. McLeish’s men are 8/1 to Score 3+ Goals at Sammy Ofer Stadium.

Click here for the latest Israel v Scotland Odds.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.