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No excuses for Scotland as they look to exorcise the ghosts of previous failures

04 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
No excuses for Scotland as they look to exorcise the ghosts of previous failures

Dropped points in Georgia cost Scotland dear the last time they were on the brink of Euro qualification - they cannot make the same mistake again

Gordon Strachan has been keen to downplay the significance of Scotland’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia on Friday, claiming “you never know how important these games are going to be”.

Such words are no doubt designed to take the pressure off his players, but Strachan – just like every other Scottish supporter – will need no reminding of exactly how important these games can be.

Particularly those away to Georgia.

Nearly two decades have passed since Scotland last qualified for a major international tournament.

The closest the Scots have come during the intervening 17 years was with their glorious failure to reach Euro 2008, when Christian Bonucci’s stoppage-time header at Hampden Park saw them miss out by two points.

Yet that campaign was not let down by a narrow loss to the world champions at the time.

Instead, it hinged on a 2-0 loss to Georgia in Tblisi the previous month.

That result was the Georgians’ only victory in qualifying that did not come against the Faroe Islands, and in losing that “must-win game” the Scots left themselves with a mountain to climb. 

Now, for the first time since 2007, they are well in the hunt in their qualifying group – three points behind table-toppers Poland and two behind Germany with both teams still to travel to Hampden.

And with the visit of Germany coming on Monday, it is vital that Strachan’s side do not slip up in Tblisi if they are not to see another valiant effort potentially ended by the World Cup holders.

The game may be taking place in the same stadium that recently hosted the 5-4 thriller between Barcelona and Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup final, but goals are likely to be hard to come by.

Four of Scotland’s last five wins have been by a 1-0 scoreline, and they are 9/2 to continue that trend on Friday.

Their two main strikers, Steven Fletcher and Steven Naismith, are both short on match practice with their clubs – as is Shaun Maloney following his return to the UK with Hull City.

Defender Russell Martin should be fit however, and having found the back of the net twice already for Norwich in the Premier League he is priced at a healthy 20/1 to score at any time.

Since that victory over Scotland nearly eight years ago, Georgia –ranked 147th in the world – have won just three of 18 competitive home internationals.

Group D rivals Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, have all already beaten bottom-placed Georgia away from home.

Scotland simply must do the same on Friday if they are not to be nearly men once again.

Georgia v Scotland betting