With Wales losing five games in a row since the appointment of Chris Coleman and Scotland starting their World Cup qualifying campaign with a couple of disappointing home draws, the stakes could hardly be higher as the sides clash at the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday night.
But the real beauty from a punting perspective is that neither can afford anything other than victory, so an attacking, free-flowing game should ensue – which opens up a wealth of options in terms of goalscorer bets.
Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher has been recalled to the Scotland squad for the first time in three years after boss Craig Levein ended their long-standing rift, clearly deciding he could not continue to omit the in-form striker in the country’s hour of need.
Fletcher is bwin.com’s 11/2 favourite to open the scoring and with five goals already this season, who would bet against him repeating the trick in this crunch Group A qualifier, especially seeing as four of those strikes were openers?
|World Cup Qualifiers - European Zone - Group A|
Fletcher to score at any time must also be worth some investment at 6/4, but if he doesn’t come up trumps, then strike partner Kenny Miller might be the man to lead the Scots to victory, as he has done so many times before.
With Levein rumoured to be considering a switch to 4-4-2, Miller’s 6/1 odds to grab the first goal look tempting, while there are 17/10 odds for him to score at any point in the 90 minutes, as he did in Scotland’s last match, salvaging a point against Macedonia.
Wales will, as always, look to Premier League superstar Gareth Bale to earn them their first win under Coleman. The Tottenham player grabbed his country’s only goal so far this season – a consolation in the disastrous 6-1 drubbing by Serbia – and is priced at 2/1 to score in the game. Bale’s 13/2 first goalscorer odds could also attract some interest.
Lining up against Bale for the Scots will be Charlie Adam and it is no secret that the pair do not get on, to put it mildly. It would be typical if Adam spoilt any chance of a Cardiff party for Bale and company by scoring a goal himself, potentially from a set-piece, and the Stoke man is a 4/1 chance to notch his first of the season.
But when push comes to shove, the preference must surely be for Fletcher, whose impressive Premier League form is just too good to ignore.
He will be determined to show Levein what he has been missing and it would be no surprise to see him get on the scoresheet against a leaky Wales rearguard.
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