Scotland's results over the international weekend were a mixed bag, to say the least. A decent 2-2 draw with Austria although we could have won it, which was then followed by a disappointing 1-1 draw with Israel. In our final game, we won 4-0 against minnows, The Faroe Islands.
That leaves us with 2 points from 9 games which leave us in 3rd place, which is disappointing but is not a surprise for different reasons compared to previous campaigns under other managers.
These games prove that Steve Clarke prefers being the underdog and his teams are at his most vulnerable when that isn't the case against these so-called smaller teams. Playing a defensive formation with 5 at the back works against the bigger teams or teams of similar ability to us, look at the result against Serbia. You then have even more evidence of his time at Kilmarnock where he overcame The Rangers and Celtic in his final season finishing in 3rd place.
These tactics do not work against teams of lower ability because we're not defending against quality attacking the opposition and the chances are they're playing the same tactics as us.
I feel more confident of qualifying from the Euro 2021 group stages with Croatia, England, and Czech Republic compared to a World Cup group that consists of Austria, Israel, Faroe Islands, Denmark & Moldova. I believe this defensive approach is the right way to go for the European Championships this Summer, but we need to have a different style and tactics for the World Cup Qualifiers.
When you've got players like Tierney, Robertson, McGinn, Adams, McTominay, Fraser, McGregor, Christie, Jack, and Armstrong we should be competing with Denmark for the top spot and worst-case scenario 2nd place above Austria in my opinion.
Steve Clarke has some thinking to do, I'm sure he will adapt to the situation like he usually does and will come out of this even stronger. There is nothing wrong with a plan B, it makes you more unpredictable which makes you more dangerous.
I am looking forward to this Summer, like everyone else. You might call me crazy, but this is our best chance to get a result against England. I think this will be Gareth Southgate's last tournament. He is an average manager, who doesn't like change. He plays his trusted formation with 5 at the back and refuses to take advantage of having the likes of Kane, Sterling, Rashford, Sancho, Grealish, Foden, and more.
Croatia is also a team in decline. Modric (35), Rakitic (33), Perisic (31) and Dejan Lovren (31). We can overpower them with our youthful team combined with our aggression. Or the more realistic option would be to let them play their game and take them on the counter-attack for the first 70 minutes and once they tire out we can take full advantage.
Czech Republic is the less talented but will prove to be difficult. They will play a similar formation to us and will look to capitalise on any mistakes we will make. We have the better players and there should be no excuse for this game. I am confident we can learn from the last 3 games and apply it to this game. It will probably set the tone for the rest of the game considering it's our first one of the campaign.
On another note, I'm just glad to finally witness our national team participate in a major tournament even if it is just watching it from home. Isn't it typical that we qualified during a lockdown too? Such a Scottish thing to do.
Photo courtesy of the Daily Record