All eyes on the Ernst-Happel Stadion
Scotland face the third and final leg of their World Cup qualifier triple-header on Tuesday when meeting group rivals Austria in Vienna. With Denmark well clear of the chasing pack the race is on to finish best of the rest and secure a Qatar 2022 playoff spot.
Austria have home advantage but enter round six in Group F below their opponents. The locals are fourth with seven points on the board while Scotland sit third with a tally of eight points. This is a crucial match for both teams. Franco Foda and Steve Clarke know the importance of a win but will also be aware of the harm defeat would do. This one is on a knife-edge.
The Boys have lost two of three
Austria starts Tuesday’s crunch tie with two wins and a draw from their first five matches. They got off to a decent start, taking four of the first six points available to them but The Boys have been unable to continue that form. Austria have bagged just three of the last nine points up for grabs with the spare win coming over Moldova who are rock bottom.
The Austrians were last seen in action on Saturday when they were hammered 5-2 by an Israeli side who have become real contenders for second place in the group. The beaten team fell behind inside the opening five minutes of that match and were 3-1 down by halftime. Austria was never in that match and looked low on confidence but did manage to find the net on two occasions so it would be dangerous to write them off here.
Tartan Army unconvinced despite win
Scotland returned to Hampden on Saturday knowing they needed a win and all three points to get their qualification campaign back on track following a heavy defeat in Denmark. The players in dark blue did what was needed to get the result but were far from convincing, stuttering to a 1-0 over Moldova in Glasgow.
Lydon Dykes scored the only goal of the game after some exceptional work from young defender Nathan Paterson who broke forward and got his men into the box. It was a little too close for comfort with a wider margin of victory predicted. The Scots did create plenty of good chances, but the result was more important than the performance that night. Clarke will ask his men for more of the same, but some shooting practice is required.
Scots will come out fighting
The team that loses this match can count themselves out of the running for a playoff place, but both enter confident they have what it takes to breathe life back into the campaign. Austria’s recent form makes them difficult to trust even at the 1.855/6 trading on the Betfair Exchange about a home win.
Scotland have their backs to the wall and the players know they must be more clinical in the final third than they were on Saturday, but they’ll come out fighting. Paterson injects pace and excitement into the right-hand side after years of the team pushing everything down the left. An away win is 5.39/2 and that’s a bet worth having at appealing odds. The draw is 3.55/2.
Defence is key to victory
Both sides kept clean sheets and won against Moldova but there’s not a lot to go on there. Austria leaked five against Israel while Scotland dropped two in Denmark. The team that wins this is the one that defends better. Under 2.5 goals at 1.75/7 makes more sense than over 2.5 at 2.265/4.
Scotland won 1-0 when last in Austria and would take a repeat performance in their return. No in the both teams to score market would have netted you a winner in four of the last six meetings of these teams and 1.845/6 says it’ll be five in seven.