GORDON STRACHAN: Scotland need another big performance against Croatia

GORDON STRACHAN: Steve Clarke will be proud of how Scotland played against England but they now need to back that up with a big performance… score a goal and they have a real chance of making the next stage

  • Scotland return to Hampden Park to play Croatia in their final group game 
  • They gave themselves a chance of qualifying after their draw with England 
  • Steve Clarke needs to back up the big performance on Friday with another one 
  • Billy Gilmour is a loss but it was the entire midfield that impressed at Wembley 
  • Scotland have great team spirit but the big challenge will be to score a goal
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here

One of the challenges for any manager is how to back up a big performance with another one. That is what Steve Clarke faces on Tuesday.

He will rightly be really proud of how his Scotland team played against England but he will also know exactly what he needs from his players for what will be a very different challenge against Croatia at Hampden Park.

Steve will have ignored the noise and looked in detail at Friday’s performance. He will know all the things that he liked and the things he didn’t (very little I would imagine).

Steve Clarke’s side need to back up their England display with a good showing against Croatia

Scotland have a real chance of qualification but they need to be clinical and find the net

The strange thing is that the public often see games very differently from how you see them as a manager.

For example when my Scotland team drew 2-2 with England in 2017 they were greeted as heroes but I knew there had some gaps in that performance.

Anyway, Friday’s result was more than deserved and now we have a real chance of making the next stage.

It was a shock to learn that Billy Gilmour is out of this game, especially given the reaction to the way he played against England.

I feel for him but having analysed the England match in detail I don’t think it has to spell disaster for Scotland.

Gilmour did well at Wembley but I think it was the midfield three that actually gave Scotland the platform to take something from that game.

Billy, John McGinn and Callum McGregor were superb as a unit and the challenge for Steve – if he chooses to play the same way again – is who to slot in as a new third man.

The good thing is that he has options. Ryan Christie of Celtic could do it and he could move Scott McTominay back in from centre half. John Fleck can play there too. So I don’t think we have to panic because Billy is out. We can cope.

Steve Clarke will be proud of his side but also know that Croatia will be a very different test

It’s a shame Billy Gilmour won’t be available but the entire midfield was great against England

The big challenge we face of course is that we have to score a goal! We haven’t managed that so far.

If it was up to me, I would go with Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes up front again. I thought Adams was terrific against England. It was clear that John Stones and Tyrone Mings didn’t enjoy playing against him at all. 

What we need in this game is to try and make sure we get midfield bodies up and around them to try and take the some of the chances that come our way.

I certainly don’t doubt the spirit in this team now. Stephen O’Donnell had taken some criticism after the defeat against the Czech Republic and I thought the way Steve and also Andy Robertson spoke up for him after a great display against England was fantastic. If you see that kind of togetherness in a group of players then you can be very happy.

Andy was typically impressive against England and so was Kieran Tierney. What a player he is and he is a real warrior also.

I was lucky that he came through the system while I was Scotland manager. I never doubted him.

I also played him at left centre back – where Steve plays him – against England in Hampden game. We knew Dele Alli was floating about in dangerous positions and we had to have centre halves who were quite willing to go and find him and engage him.

I was lucky to have Kieran Tierney when I was Scotland manager and I never doubted him

Lots of full-backs or central defenders will stand off you and let you cross the ball but he will go right up against you.

He is quite willing to stand there and say: ‘Well I might be on my own here but you will have to do well to beat me’.

Before that game he had got bashed up playing for Celtic. He had suffered a really nasty mouth injury and was having to wear a gum shield at training and things.

We were supposed to protect him but he was having none of it. Celtic were telling us he had this and that and the other and was really struggling. Then he turns up and you speak to him and he just says he’s fine. That’s the kid. That’s the mentality.

Football is about talent and ability and tactics but it’s about lots of other things too. I don’t think Scotland are too short of any of it right now.

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