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Craig Levein's men kick off their World Cup qualification campaign on Saturday afternoon - Willie Duncan believes that the Scots can take the points with the aid of home comforts

Scotland begin their quest to qualify for a major tournament for the first time in 16 years when they welcome Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Serbia to Hampden Park, for their opening World Cup 2014 Group A qualifying fixture on Saturday afternoon.

Craig Levein’s side have been handed a tough task as they aim to progress to a major tournament for the first time since being eliminated at the group stages of the 1998 World Cup in France, and will be desperate to get their campaign off to a winning start.

Despite a dismal qualification record, the Scots actually boast relatively impressive home form in competitive matches. Indeed, since 2000, the Scots have lost just five competitive fixtures at Hampden and can be backed at 13/8 (2.63) with Paddy Power to win on Saturday.

Serbia, though, are unlikely to be intimidated easily and include a number of vastly experienced stars in their squad for the qualifier at Hampden with the likes of Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic likely to feature. The Serbs can also be backed at 13/8 (2.63) with Paddy Power to get their campaign off to a winning start, while the same firm offer 11/5 (3.20) on the match ending all square.

Craig Levein’s side were boosted by an impressive 3-1 friendly win over Australia last month while Serbia come into this match on the back of a five-match winless run, and the Scots will be hoping to extend that record here.

Goals were a common feature of Scotland’s home fixtures in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with matches against Liechtenstein, Spain and Czech Republic all featuring three or more goals and the 5/4 (2.25) for three or more goals to be netted here is worthy of consideration.

Incredibly, Serbia have netted in just two of their last nine internationals but Scotland’s creaky defence could give the Serbs hope at Hampden on Saturday and the even money (2.0) quote from Paddy Power for both teams to score is worth backing.

This is likely to be a closely fought encounter but given Serbia’s alarming lack of form aligned with Scotland’s solid record at Hampden, the Scots look to be great value at 5/6 (1.83) in Paddy Power’s draw no bet market, while value hunters should consider the same firm’s juicy 9/1 (10.0) quote for a 2-1 win for Craig Levein’s men.

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Both teams to score at evens (2.0) with Paddy Power
Scotland to win 2-1 at 9/1 (10.0) with Paddy Power

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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter

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