UEFA Euro 2020 Play-offs Betting Preview: Scotland vs. Serbia – Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020

Serbia will take on Scotland in a winner-takes-all clash at Rajko Mitic Stadium in Serbian capital Belgrade in the UEFA Euro 2020 play-offs on Thursday, 12 November 2020.

Serbia and Scotland will meet for the first time since March 2013, when both sides were together in Group A of the 2014 World Cup qualifying. However, both sides failed to progress to the finals back then (remaining third and fourth respectively, behind the likes of Belgium and Croatia) yet Serbia won their most recent encounter – a 2-0 home victory in Novi Sad, following a goalless first leg in Glasgow (Scotland).

Serbia Betting Preview

The Serbs managed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and will hope to build on. They are keen to return to the major continental stage for the first time since they did so as FR Yugoslavia to attend and even reach the quarter-finals at the UEFA Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Drawn in Group 3 of UEFA Nations League B, Serbia are yet to win a game in UEFA’s newest competition, but we strongly doubt that someone really cares for the upcoming two games against Hungary and Russia, with the Euro 2020 playoff final against Scotland looming.

Ljubiša Tumbakov’s men come off a 2-1 extra-time victory at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo last month to deny Norway an opportunity of reaching a first major tournament since the Euro 2000 and their golden generation, including Erling Haaland and Co, will have to wait more, while the Serbs are just one step away from their dream.

Ljubisa Tumbakovic replaced Mladen Krstajic at the Serbia helm last year and could become the first coach to qualify Serbia since reaching the Euro 2000 finals as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Vujadin Boškov.

Despite his significant domestic experience, winning the Yugoslavia First League six times as well as the Yugoslavia Cup three times with domestic giants Partizan between 1993 and 2002, the 68-years-old Tumbakovic failed Montenegro to leave a mark when he led former Yugoslavia alliance Montenegro from January 2016 until his dismissal in June 2019, yet he has a fabulous opportunity to reach a Major competition with his homeland.

Savo Milosevic was the last Serbian hero at a European Championship – becoming joint-top scorer at Euro 2000 (alongside Netherlands’ Patrick Kluivert with five goals each) and nowadays Fulham’s forward Aleksandar Mitrovic will hope to get in his boots, being a pivotal figure in Fulham’s recent Premier League promotion, as well as one of the integral players over the course of Serbia’s qualifying campaign.

Indeed, Smederevo-born Mitrovic bagged 10 goals for Serbia during UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying Group B – just one less than Portugal’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and two less than England’s Harry Kane, who was the overall top goalscorer.

However, Serbia’s preparations for the decisive playoff have been far from ideal and while they hope to have some players from the Italian Serie A available for selection, they are less sure of others due to the latest lockdown measures in Italy.

Tumbakovic himself has confirmed that experienced defender Aleksandar Kolarov and midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are already in Belgrade, while Fiorentina duo Nikola Milinkevic and Dusan Vlahovic have also travelled to join Serbia’s camp despite travel restrictions.

Filip Djuricic who scored the brace for Serbia’s 2-0 win over Scotland in March 2013, has initially been called up to Serbia’s squad again but the Sassuolo attacking midfielder tested positive for coronavirus and was withdrawn.

However, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic had an instant impact as he came off the bench to replace Djuricic in the final minutes of the triumph in Oslo and his brace was crucial for the final outcome, with the Lazio midfielder expected to play a key role once again.

Milos Veljkovic was also withdrawn from the current Serbia squad as the German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen have banned him from travelling and the centre-back won’t show up here, though he was called up.

Ljubisa Tumbakovic will likely stick with the 3-4-2-1 formation and Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are set to start behind Aleksandar Mitrovic, who’ll once again lead the line.

Experienced Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic retired from international football, following the steps of his fellow compatriot and former Chelsea teammate Branislav Ivanovic, who retired from international action after the 2018 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Napoli’s defender Nikola Maksimovic is recovering from an injury and is unavailable for selection as well.

Either Stefan Mitrovic and Serbian teenager Strahinja Pavlovic could be given another start alongside captain Aleksandar Kolarov and Nikola Milenkovic at centre-back, with Strasbourg’s Mitrovic tipped to start due to his experience and it’s reasonable to believe that Tumbakovic would opt for the same defensive formation that started against Norway last month.

Nemanja Maksimovic, Luka Milivojevic, Nemanja Gudelj and Sasa Lukic are all competing to feature in the middle of the park of Ljubisa Tumbakovic’s favorite system, with the La Liga pair Gudelj and Maksimovic likely to get the nod over the other two.

Predrag Rajkovic of Stade Reims started over Eibar’s Marko Dmitrovic at Norway and will likely remain in goal for Serbia.

Scotland Betting Preview

Scotland have not qualified for a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France and the Tartan Army are eager to end the long wait with another strong performance in Belgrade.

Since his appointment in May 2019, Steve Clarke had to endure four consecutive defeats (two against Belgium and two against Russia) at the very beginning of his Scotland tenure but his side gradually gained momentum and are now brimming with confidence.

Unbeaten in 8 games – since a 4-0 defeat at Russia in October 2019 – Scotland now have all reasons to believe they can be among the last ones to grab one of the last four remaining qualifying spots for the rescheduled European Championship finals.

The Tartan Army could level a long-lasting record as they last enjoyed a nine-game unbeaten run in September 1976, under Willie Ormond.

Moreover, Steve Clarke’s men can boast three consecutive clean sheets and despite some several important absentees last month, Scotland survived the penalty rollercoaster to beat Israel in the semi final playoffs.

John McGinn was Scotland top goalscorer over the course of their qualifying campaign and the Aston Villa midfielder looks to build on a return of six goals and one assist in four European Championship qualifying games.

With Kieran Tierney back in the group, Declan Gallagher will likely make way for the Arsenal defender who will probably start alongside Manchester United’s Scott McTominay and either Leeds United’s Liam Cooper or Scott McKenna of Nottingham Forest in a back three.

Except Arsenal’s versatile defender, the likes of Scott McKenna, Liam Palmer, Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Christie, James Forrest and Oliver Burke were also ruled out from the Israel game yet most of them are set to return for the upcoming round of games.

All in all, Steve Clarke will be without defender Grant Hanley and winger Ryan Fraser for the trip to Belgrade after both players pulled out of the squad with hamstring injuries.

Fraser’s absence is a particular blow for Scotland as the Newcastle United summer signing started their last two matches in attack.

Meanwhile, John Fleck is also recovering from a back issue and Sheffield United’s midfielder won’t be available for selection here.

Stephen O’Donnell and Liam Palmer are competing for a starting spot at right wing-back on Thursday.

Even though the Sheffield United duo Oli McBurnie and Oli Burke are both natural options to start in Scotland’s attack, Steve Clarke may actually go with Celtic’s Ryan Christie in an advanced role alongside QPR’s forward Lyndon Dykes against Serbia.

Since he made his international debut for Scotland in a 1-1 draw with Israel in the UEFA Nations League on 4 September, Australian-born Scotsman Lyndon Dykes managed two goals in five appearances, including the winner for the 1-0 win over Slovakia at Hampden Park last month.

Possible Starting Lineups of Serbia and Scotland

Serbia: Predrag Rajkovic – Aleksandar Kolarov, Stefan Mitrovic, Nikola Milenkovic – Mihailo Ristic, Nemanja Maksimovic, Nemanja Gudelj, Darko Lazovic – Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic – Aleksandar Mitrovic. (3-4-2-1)

Scotland: David Marshall – Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay, Scott McKenna – Andrew Robertson, Ryan Jack, John McGinn, Callum McGregor, Stephen O’Donnell – Ryan Christie, Lyndon Dykes. (3-5-2)

Spooky Express Betting Prediction

Both sides may have two more UEFA Nations League games to come during this international window, but it is fair to say that this is the only one that really matters, with Serbia and Scotland both aiming to be among the 24 UEFA Euro 2020 finalists next summer.

Unlike the Scottish side, though, Serbia do not exactly head into this playoff in the best run of form, having won only one of their last six matches (losing two of them) in all competitions – but it was the right one – that victory over an extremely talented Norwegian generation.

Scotland may have some prominent Premier League figures in their lines but we believe that Serbia have the overall quality and spirit to outplay Steve Clarke’s selection in regular time and you can get betting odds of -143 on the Serbs to win.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s chances are rated at +310 with BetOnline, while a draw can also be backed at +245.

Spooky Express Free Play: Serbia -143 @ BetOnline for 8/10 Units

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