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The form man for Scotland…

Tuesday 6th October 2020

In Across the Leagues today:

  • Deadline-day desperation…
  • Penalty-kick purchases…
  • Euro 2020 Playoffs…

The form man for Scotland…

The transfer window has been a bit silly for a while now. Over the last day or two, BBC Sport and Sky Sports have been full of splashy headlines and ‘breaking news’ banners…

Deadline-day desperation…

In reality, not much has happened. The door slammed shut last night. The countdown, as ever, was treated with a sense of occasion better reserved for NASA space shuttle launches.

Arsenal have signed Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid. Headline-writers have been wheeling out the ‘get the Partey started’ puns already.

In a move that transfer-window connoisseur Harry Redknapp described as ‘desperate,’ Man Utd brought in Edinson Cavani yesterday. According to Harry, the 33-year-old striker has been offered around to a stack of clubs this summer. In the end, it seems, Man Utd took the bait.

No road home…

I’d been following a more low-key saga, with Stephan El Shaarawy almost but not quite making it back to Italy from Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese league. His move to Roma fell through late on.

El Shaarawy has been a reliable goalscorer in his time, in particular at AC Milan and Roma in Serie A during the last decade.

He’s still only 27 years old, so don’t rule out seeing the Italian striker back in Europe next year.

Penalty-kick purchases…

Man Utd also purchased Alex Telles from Porto. The Brazilian left-back was of interest to us when we took a look at the Portuguese league before the current campaign kicked off.

Last season, Telles scored eight (out of 10) penalties for Porto in the league.

Will he get to take any penalties for Man Utd?

It’s not looking likely when 12-yard specialist Bruno Fernandes is on the pitch. Another recruit from Portugal, ex Sporting Lisbon midfield general Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford in January – and has already scored 10 penalties for the Manchester club.

Of more interest might be, who will take the spot kicks for Porto now that Telles has gone?

As we noted pre-season, Mehdi Taremi scored seven out of seven penalties in Portugal for Rio Ave in 2019/20.

Taremi moved to Porto this summer. He’s yet to start a game for the champions yet though, coming off the bench as a second-half substitute in the first three games of the season, and yet to score.

Scotland v Israel this week…

The Euro 2020 Qualification Playoff semi finals take place on Thursday night.

Scotland v Israel is the tie I’ve been looking at, with a key player in mind for the hosts…

These two teams met in the UEFA Nations League just last month, playing out a 1-1 draw. Ryan Christie got Scotland’s goal from the penalty spot…

  • Christie has scored in 3 of his last 4 International starts, converting from the spot in both of Scotland’s Nations League matches last month

The Celtic midfielder has scored in four out of 13 starts for club & country so far in the new 2020/21 season (31% Anytime Scorer strike-rate).

From 38 starts in all competitions for Celtic & Scotland last season, Christie produced 14 Anytime Scorer payouts (37%).

Top price Anytime Scorer odds of 11/4 (3.75) for Thursday’s game suggest a ‘true’ percentage chance closer to 27%...

Most important of all, backing Christie to Score Anytime in every game where he’s been in the starting XI, from the beginning of the last season to the present day to level stakes at those 11/4 odds, would’ve produced a healthy 32% ROI.

Christie the man for the occasion…

Ryan was recently linked with a move to the Premier League, with Burnley & Sean Dyche reported to have been pursuing the 25-year-old for some time.

Add in the praise heaped on him by former Scotland manager Alex McLeish, with the International boss impressed by Christie “beefing up” his physique. And you have a player that looks well worth following right now.

Sticking with a theme that’s been prominent (and profitable) for us so far in the new campaign, penalty takers should be paid special attention to in the Scorer markets. Christie fits the bill for that criteria.

With James Forrest sustaining an injury, Scotland manager Steve Clarke’s striking options for this massive game include Lawrence Shankland, Oliver McBurnie, and (our 100/1 Championship outside chance) Lyndon Dykes.

At a shade higher than those three in the betting, taking penalties, and in-form, Ryan Christie is my pick to be the man to be on the team-sheet – and rise to the occasion.

Today’s pick

Euro 2020 Qualification Playoffs

Scotland v Israel
Thursday, 7.45pm – Sky Sports

  • Anytime Scorer: Ryan Christie @ 11/4 (3.75) with 888 Sport, Unibet, 5/2 (3.5) Bet365, VBet, 11/5 (3.2) Betway, 2/1 (3.0) Skybet, Betfred, BetVictor

I’ll be back on Thursday with your next email. There are seven other semi-final ties taking place in the Euro 2020 playoffs that evening. With teams fighting for a chance to reach the finals next summer, there’s going to be all to play for.

Enjoy the football…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Oliver Upstone

Across the Leagues