The Scottish season gets underway on Saturday, with the group stage of the League Cup and it certainly helps build anticipation ahead of the new campaign.
The early rounds of fixtures in this competition are effectively used as pre-season friendlies for some clubs, while others can struggle to field 11 senior players, given the financial restraints at this stage of the season.
Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs won’t join the competition until the second-round and those five sides occupy the top-five positions in the outright betting.
Scottish League Cup outright predictions
Rangers to win the Scottish League Cup at 11/4
Clearly, Celtic were by far and away the strongest side in Scotland last season, but there are enough doubts to pass on offers of 6/4.
The defending champions have said goodbye to manager Ange Postecoglou and they have also lost star performer Jota to the Saudi Pro League.
The Bhoys still boast the strongest squad in the competition, but Postecoglou was a superbly talented manager, who drew on his experience of the J-League to sign the likes of Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda and the Australian was very much the glue that held the pieces together at Parkhead.
Rangers were beaten 2-1 by Celtic in the final of this competition last season, but the Gers were victorious in the final SPL Old Firm game of the season and further progress is expected under Mick Beale.
The Light Blues have lost Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos this summer and there are likely to be major changes to the Ibrox squad. Forwards Cyriel Dessers and Sam Lammers rate interesting signings, and with the promise of more to come, Rangers look slightly better value at 11/4.
Group Winner best bet – Dunfermline at 16/5
Dunfermline line up alongside Kilmarnock, Raith, Annan and Albion in Group F and the Pars look cracking value to top the section at 16/5.
Killie flirted with relegation for much of last season and the Premiership side scored only 37 goals in 38 top-flight matches. This is a drop in class for Derek McInnes’ men, but they look far too short.
Dunfermline will be buoyed after their League One title-winning campaign last term and they look a side that can continue to improve. James McPake is working with a young squad in Fife and there is plenty of hope for further progress from youngsters Kane Ritchie-Hosler, Chris Hamilton, Robbie Mahon and Matthew Todd.
The Pars played a couple of warm-up games against Premiership outfits St Johnstone and Hearts last week and they managed to hold both of those sides to a 1-1 draw. The contest against the Saints was certainly played in a competitive spirit and McPake’s men more than held their own in that clash.
It appears that Dunfermline will be well prepared for the group stage of the Scottish League Cup and they look a good punt to progress to round two.
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