From an experiment with Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson to a successful night in Vienna, Scotland’s three games in six days were certainly a rollercoaster.
A poor performance and defeat to Denmark where the Liverpool man and Scotland captain played right-back as a tactical reshuffle failed was followed up by an underwhelming win versus Moldova. A 1-0 victory over Austria away from home though changes the complexion of Scotland’s World Cup 2022 hopes for the better.
Head coach Steve Clarke’s side sit second in Group F with a massive match to come against Israel next month. Here are five things we learned.
Huge month ahead
With the slender win in Vienna, Scotland have now set up a defining match with Israel. Win this, and a World Cup play-off spot can all but likely be secured with wins over minnows Moldova and Faroe Islands.
Gilmour comes of age
In what were his second, third and fourth international starts respectively, Billy Gilmour looked way beyond his 20 years of age may suggest. He orchestrated Clarke’s midfield and a haul of caps await the exciting talent.
It was more down to need than want, but the Denmark game was one to forget. Amid a slate of injury concerns, Robertson moved to right-back, and the Liverpool man himself admitted he wasn’t comfortable. It resulted in a loss of stability backline as the three at the back system was tweaked. Clarke will likely have learned this didn’t work.
One criticism thrown at Clarke was that his team are still not scoring enough goals. That much is likely true, but they have been clinical enough. Scotland won’t win many games 3-0 or 4-0, but they will remain in all games right until the last kick of the ball.
It’s a good pain, but one all the same. Nathan Patterson shone during the Moldova match last weekend as the youngster made his claim for the right-back role. But after an injury prior to the Austria match, regular pick Stephen O’Donnell stepped in and did just as well in Vienna.
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