Talking Tactics: Reds star Robertson key to Scotland bouncing back
Scotland are bidding to bounce back from World Cup play-off heartbreak — and Andy Robertson will be key to banishing memories of last week’s Hampden Park defeat.
The Tartan Army’s dreams of reaching Qatar were dashed by Ukraine in Glasgow but attention will now turn to Nations League success for Steve Clarke’s men.
No player will be more important to their hopes than Robertson, who has enjoyed a sensational season at club level with Liverpool.
Ahead of Scotland's clash with Armenia tonight, we take a look at why the full-back has all the attributes to lead his country to a bright future.
A remarkably dangerous creative threat from left-back, Robertson managed 10 Premier League assists last season.
Only two players in the division bettered that haul — team-mates Trent Alexander-Arnold (12) and Mohamed Salah (13).
The defender's underlying league numbers are further evidence of his ability to carve out opportunities for others, creating an impressive 55 chances and nine big chances for Liverpool in 2021-22.
Ball in the box
Robertson's willingness to get the ball into the box — and the quality with which he does so — is the reason his creative numbers are so impressive.
Unsurprisingly, given the system he plays in under Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, the 28-year-old ranks fourth in the top flight for both crosses attempted (195) and completed (45).
The Merseysiders’ No26 specialises in pulling the ball back from advanced positions on the left flank, attempting (12) and completing (four) pull-back passes — the second and third-most in the league, respectively.
The full package
Klopp was effusive in his praise of Robertson last season, pointing to the defender's eye-catching display in March’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates.
He said: "It is the full package of Robbo [Robertson], not only as a player but a person as well. He wants desperately to deliver and work for the team.
"Even though he and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] set up a lot of goals, there is still space for improvement in the decisive moments.
"[Roberto Firmino's goal against Arsenal] was one of our favourite goals for a long time. First, we win the ball back and second, Robbo is waiting with his cross until he saw Bobby is now ready for it.
"It was an incredible pass in the end and Bobby had to do a lot to get it past [Aaron] Ramsdale.
"Yes, [Robertson] played a really good game. It is not the first one and I hope it is not the last one."
Building up from the back
Robertson's influence is not just limited to the opposition penalty area, however.
His 2618 touches, 1928 attempted passes and 1642 completed passes paint a picture of a player who is heavily involved in his team's general build-up play.
Despite his role as a flying full-back, the Scot is a key cog for Liverpool in all phases as the Reds look to dominate their opponents.
Representing Scotland presents Robertson with a different challenge to playing for Liverpool.
Unlike at club level, he is not part of one of the international scene's most formidable sides.
Though the skills he has displayed at Anfield are clearly transferable, Robertson’s ability out of possession is also likely to come to the fore during this upcoming Nations League campaign.
The Glasgow native will need to maximise both his creative and defensive talents if he is to achieve success with the Tartan Army.