With the final set of fixtures before a prolonged break, International football returns this week. This set of fixtures has major implications for which nations head to Qatar, so for today’s tip, we’re focusing on the crucial fixture between Moldova and Scotland at the Zimbru Stadium.
Moldova has had a dismal qualifying process. The Moldovans are yet to record a victory and sit on a sole point through eight match days - leaving them bottom of group F. They also have the worst goal difference in the group. Through eight games, Moldova has a -20 goal difference, including an 8-0 and 4-0 defeat to Denmark earlier in the campaign.
As for Moldovan team news, the squad remains similar to recent qualifiers. They have injected a few younger players who may earn their first caps for the national side. Defender Ioan-Calin Revenco has earned a call-up at 21-years-old, whilst a pair of Petrocub Hincesti products could add youthful energy to midfield to end Moldova’s qualifiers.
Whilst Moldova have nothing to play for, Scotland’s World Cup dream could begin with a victory in Moldova. And the Scots enter this fixture in impressive form. Steve Clarke’s side secured a crucial victory over Israel during the last international break and a win over Moldova can secure a World Cup playoff place.
Scotland will try and secure their playoff place with a slightly damaged forward line. Lyndon Dykes and Ryan Christie are missing through suspension, however, Steve Clarke has turned to Stoke forward Jacob Brown to bolster his attack.
Saturday’s fixture between Scotland and Moldova marks the fourth encounter between the two sides. The two clashed in the 2004/05 qualifying campaign. Scotland were held to a shock draw in 2004 before defeating Moldova in the reverse fixture. But both teams are on a different trajectory at the moment.
Moldova are playing for pride in front of their home fans, whilst Scotland can secure their own World Cup destiny with a victory. After defeating the Moldovan’s at Hampden Park - a 1-0 victory in September - the Scots will fancy their chances despite being away.
The history of this fixture alongside the wider context of the fixture, Scotland should secure the victory. They could easily slot multiple goals past a poor Moldovan defence, but it could be a ‘by any means necessary’ type victory for Clarke and co. We’re predicting a Scotland victory to nil with under 3.5 goals with Ladbrokes at 23/20.