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    Fate in Scotland’s Own Hands

    08 October 2017 | WC Qualification UEFA | Preview
    Fate in Scotland’s Own Hands

    There is just one match remaining in what has turned out to be a dramatic World Cup Qualifying Group F in the European section.

    England are safely through to the 2018 World Cup in Russia having opened a 6-point gap at the top of the group and cannot be caught.  However, it is the second place which is interesting in this group and three teams have the chance of claiming second spot and entering the playoffs in November.

    Two of those three teams meet on Sunday night as Scotland travel to Ljubljana to take on Slovenia.  This is a match between fourth and second in the group and it’s the visitors who start the match with the advantage, having defeated Slovakia 1-0 at home on Thursday night.

    The win means Scotland start the match on 17 points and trends show they have won their last three games in the group.

    This is in stark contrast to their earlier form, which despite starting the group with a win in Malta saw them draw at home with Lithuania before losing back-to-back games 3-0 to England and Slovakia.

    Since that defeat to England, Scotland have remained undefeated in the group, defeating Slovenia, Malta and Slovakia at home, beating Lithuania away and drawing with England at home.

    The only slight concern for Scotland will be their away form and they have won three of their last nine away competitive games.  All three of their wins have come against weak opposition and they have failed to score in two of their last three on the road.

    Slovenia were very disappointed to leave Wembley without anything to show for their efforts on Thursday night.  Their performance against the group leaders deserved at least a point, if not more and they will be devastated to have conceded a late goal to lose the match 1-0.

    They must regroup and focus on this game, which is a must-win match if they want to have any chance of claiming second place in the group to enter the playoffs.

    Slovenia have had some mixed results in this group and they have won four, drawn two and lost three of their nine games.

    Trends show they tend to struggle when asked to play away from home and all three of their defeats in this group have come when playing on the road.  Slovenia have lost in Scotland, Slovakia and England and each time they failed to score a goal.

    However, one glance at their home form shows a different team and Slovenia have won three and drawn one of their four home games in the group.  There have been wins over Malta, Lithuania and Slovakia plus a 0-0 draw with England.

    Trends show Slovenia are unbeaten in their last seven home competitive games and they are yet to concede a goal at home in the group.

    Team news and Slovenia will be without Valter Birsa and Rene Krhin who are both suspended.  It’s unlikely they will make many changes from the team which started against England.

    Scotland have no suspension concerns and will look towards Leigh Griffiths to try and break down the stubborn Slovenia defence.

    This is going to be a very tight game, especially with so much riding on it and chances could be at a premium.  It would be no surprise to see this one finish level, with under 2.5 goals scored.  However, if the teams are level with 15 minutes remaining, the game could open up leading to a goal for either team.

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