Cyprus vs Scotland prediction: Cyprus 1-2 Scotland
Scotland’s hopes of automatic European Championship qualification may be over but all hope is not lost.
The Tartan Army have a UEFA Nations League C play-off place to look forward to in March.
However, they will need to build up some momentum to have any chance of making it two a tournament which Glasgow is part-hosting.
Will Steve Clarke’s side leave Nicosia with a moral boosting win?
Highlights of Scotland 2-1 Cyprus
Highlights of Scotland 6-0 San Marino
Cyprus vs Scotland: Who will win?
Despite being the hosts, Cyprus are underdogs to win this one at 2/1.
Scotland meanwhile are 11/8 to leave GPS Stadium with all three points.
A draw, which wouldn’t really suit anybody, is 21/10.
Over 2.5 goals is 11/10.
Both teams to score is 5/6.
Scotland to win and both teams to score is 4/1.
Pieros Sotiriou of FC København is the top scorer in the Cypriot squad with ten international goals. He is 9/2 to open the scoring and 2/1 to add to his tally.
Georgios Efrem will also hope to be a threat. He is 8/1 to score first and 7/2 to net anytime.
Lawrence Shankland’s record for Scotland is one start, one goal. The Dundee United forward is 7/2 to break the deadlock and 6/4 to score yet another goal.
Ryan Christie meanwhile is the top scoring Scotsman in the Scottish Premiership. The Celtic man is 6/1 to score first and 13/5 to add to his international tally.
Both Fotis Papoulis and Sotiriou to score is 16/1.
Both Efrem and Sotiriou to score is 18/1.
Both Christie and Shankland to score is 15/2.
Both John McGinn and James Forrest to score is 14/1.
Cyprus vs Scotland: Match preview
Cyprus’ wait for a first ever major tournament wait goes on.
They made a flying start in Group I back in March; Pieros Sotiriou scoring twice in a 5-0 demolition of San Marino at home.
However, that was followed by a 2-0 defeat to Belgium, a 2-1 loss at Hampden and a narrow last-gasp 1-0 reverse in Russia.
They were effectively taken out of contention but they did show some sings of life.
That three game run of defeats was followed by a three match unbeaten run.
In September, they came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Kazakhstan before running riot with a 4-0 victory in San Marino.
Then in October, they went one better.
Nicholas Ioannou’s late back-post tap-in securing a come from behind 2-1 win in Nur-Sultan.
That victory in Kazakhstan means they’ve now won 22 of their last 100 qualification matches.
That’s not a catastrophic record but it is clear why they have never made it to a tournament.
Their last match before this one was a 5-0 home drubbing to Russia but this Euro 2020 qualifier represents a far more realistic opportunity for points.
Unlike their visitors, Ran Ben Shimon’s side can not fall back on a play-off place.
They finished third in UEFA Nations League C3 so their position of 36th in the overall ranking will not be enough.
Can they sign off a disappointing campaign with a win in their final home match?
Will Scotland win in Nicosia?
Scotland meanwhile can still qualify for the Euros but will need to improve and fast.
Ever since they were embarrassingly beaten 3-0 in Kazakhstan back on matchday one, it was always going to be near-impossible for them to qualify.
That signalled a change of manager with Steve Clark coming in.
His first match at the helm was against Cyprus at Hampden.
It was all going to plan when Andy Robertson’s long-range shot arrowed into the top corner.
But, in the 87th minute, disaster; equaliser.
Nevertheless, they went up the other end and Oli Burke was the hero, tapping in the winner.
However, that was far from the start of something as it was followed by four successive defeats.
Back in June, despite holding their own for 44 minutes, Belgium proved too strong winning 3-0 in Brussels.
Then, in September, it was back to back loses at Hampden; 2-1 to Russia and 4-0 to Belgium.
Last month, they travelled to the Luzhniki Stadium for a rematch with Russia.
Once again, a decent first half was followed by a catastrophic second.
The home side broke the deadlock in the 57th minute before going onto to score three more in the subsequent 25 minutes.
Scotland’s automatic hopes: Over.
Three days later, they were presented with the ideal opportunity to bounce back as the world’s lowest ranked team San Marino came to town.
In the first half, John McGinn scored not once, not twice but three times to complete his first ever career hat-trick.
Then, in the second half, Lawrence Shankland and Stuart Findlay both bagged their first ever international goals before a fabulous free-kick from Stuart Armstrong sealed a 6-0 win.
Scotland’s biggest victory since beating Gibraltar by the same scoreline in 2015.
So, as it stands, Scotland would be in the same play-off path as Serbia, Norway and Bulgaria.
If they’re to come through that, their form must improve, starting here.
Cyprus team news vs Scotland
Despite the fact Cyprus have nothing to play for, they will put out their strongest available XI.
Constantinos Panagi will win his 23rd cap in goal.
He’s recently taken over as number one from now 37 year old Antonis Georgallides who won 66 caps.
In defence, Konstantinos Laifis was sent off against Russia so is suspended.
Giorgos Merkis and Charalambos Kyriakou will keep their places in the back three with the uncapped Andreas Karo coming in.
Nicholas Ioannou will be at left wing-back with Michalis Ioannou, no relation, in central midfield.
Kostakis Artymatas and Ioannis Kousoulos will make up the midfield.
Further forward, Matija Špoljarić and Ioannis Kosti will be tasked with supporting the loan front-man.
Pieros Sotiriou will be that striker.
He has ten goals for his country which is 25% of all the goals this current squad has scored.
Can this side spring a surprise?
Scotland team news vs Cyprus
As for Scotland, as always, it’s about who is not available rather than who is.
David Marshall is very much first choice these days as Craig Gordon and Scott Bain are out of favour at Celtic and after Allan McGregor’s retirement from international duty.
In defence, Liam Palmer is likely to keep his place ahead of Stephen O’Donnell at right-back.
In the middle, there’s no Liam Cooper, Charlie Mulgrew, John Souttar, Grant Hanley or Stuart Findlay.
So, Clark is likely to go with Aberdeen’s pairing of Mikey Devlin and Scott McKenna.
At left-back, the debate has always been should Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney or Liverpool’s Andy Robertson start.
Well, this time around, neither are in the squad so Celtic’s Greg Taylor will be handed his second cap.
In midfield, the only major absentee is Scott McTominay.
Even without the Manchester United man, Clarke has an array of midfield options.
He’s likely to go with John McGinn, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie but that would mean leaving out Ryan Jack, Stuart Armstrong, John Fleck and Kenny McLean.
If only Scotland had this much quality throughout the whole team.
Out-wide, Ryan Fraser has withdrawn from the squad.
So, it could be James Forrest on the right and Oli Burke on the left.
The latter is currently on loan at La Liga club Deportivo Alavés.
Up front, Lawrence Shankland will keep his place after his goal against San Marino.
He’s scored 17 goals in 13 Scottish Championship appearances for Dundee United including in the Dundee derby at Dens last weekend.
Great news for Scotland is that Steven Naismith is back in the squad but he’s unlikely to be risked.
He could be vital in the play-off though.
Will this side secure a moral boosting win?
Predicted Cyprus line-up vs Scotland
Predicted Scotland line-up vs Cyprus
Highlights of San Marino 0-2 Scotland
Highlights of Kazakhstan 3-0 Scotland
Highlights of Belgium 3-0 Scotland
Highlights of Scotland 1-2 Russia
Highlights of Russia 4-0 Scotland
Highlights of Cyprus 0-2 Belgium
The latest tweets from Scotland pre Cyprus
Scotland squad update:
IN: Lewis Morgan & Graeme Shinnie.
OUT: Liam Cooper, Ryan Fraser, Scott McTominay & Andy Robertson. pic.twitter.com/P8yCQF3hww
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) November 12, 2019
Training Session One ✅
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) November 12, 2019
All odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.