27 March 2023

Talking points ahead of Scotland’s clash with Spain

27 March 2023

Scotland take on Spain in the second of their 2024 Euro qualifying double-header at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.

The Scots began their campaign with an encouraging 3-0 win over bottom seeds Cyprus on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points ahead of the visit of La Roja.

An unusually good start to a qualifying campaign

The victory over Cyprus was the first opening day win in a Euro qualifying campaign since a 6-0 victory over the Faroe Islands at Celtic Park in 2006.

In previous Euro campaigns it has felt like Scotland almost immediately had to play catch-up but three points is a solid if expected start to Group A fixtures.

Top seeds Spain, who beat Norway 3-0 at home on Saturday night, will of course be tougher opponents but manager Steve Clarke knows a positive result will offer even more encouragement going into June’s double-header against Norway and Georgia.

Scott McTominay to start?

The Manchester United midfielder came off the bench on Saturday to secure the points for Clarke’s side.

John McGinn’s first-half strike separated the two sides but it was getting a little nervy until McTominay showed his finishing prowess with two strikes from inside the box in the final minutes.

Clarke started with a 3-4-3 formation with attacking midfielders Stuart Armstrong and McGinn supporting Che Adams.

Callum McGregor is a fixture in the holding midfield area so if there is any change to the more defensive-minded playmakers then it likely that Ryan Jack will make way for McTominay.

Che Adams to be replaced by Lyndon Dykes?

The Southampton attacker dropped out of the squad with a calf knock picked up against Cyprus and Clarke admitted the loss was a “blow”.

Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland was drafted in as a replacement on Sunday but will almost certainly start on the bench.

Clarke also has Ryan Christie and Jacob Brown in his squad but Dykes, recently recovered from a debilitating bout of pneumonia, took over from Adams on Saturday and is likely to start against Spain.

The QPR striker has scored eight times in 27 international games – including winners against the likes of Slovakia, Moldova and Austria – but a goal against the Spanish would endear him further to the Tartan Army.

Does Clarke play three at the back again?

Defence will be key to a positive result against Spain. Clarke played three centre-backs against Cyprus – Ryan Porteous, Grant Hanley and Kieran Tierney – which allowed him to use the Arsenal defender along with captain Andrew Robertson.

The former Kilmarnock, Reading and West Brom manager may well be pondering a return to a back four against Spain but would that include Tierney as one of the two centre-backs? 

Moreover, will Clarke be tempted to replace the youngest member of the squad, 20-year-old Aaron Hickey, who had a fine game at right-back against Cyprus, with Nathan Patterson who was his replacement after 79 minutes on Saturday?

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox