Talking Tactics: Clarke's men have Scot a great chance to reach Qatar

Will Evans
LiveScore
12/11/202109:50
Steve Clarke could lead Scotland to a second consecutive major tournament and their first World Cup since 1998
Steve Clarke could lead Scotland to a second consecutive major tournament and their first World Cup since 1998

Scotland are within touching distance of a shot at the World Cup — and they will not want to leave anything to chance.

Victory in Moldova tonight would confirm a second-place finish in European qualifying Group F for Steve Clarke’s men, handing them a chance of reaching Qatar 2022 via the play-offs.

A four-point advantage over Israel leaves some margin for error but they will not want to require a result against leaders Denmark in their final match of the campaign.

That makes three points in Chisinau all the more essential. Here is how Scotland can secure victory.

Learn from the Faroes

Moldova are currently propping up Group F with a solitary point from their first eight fixtures.

That came at home against the Faroe Islands despite the visitors having more shots, a greater share of possession and dominating territory against the Eastern European nation.

In turn, the Faroe Islands frustrated Scotland until Lyndon Dykes’ late winner, when the sides met last time out.

Despite only winning 1-0, Clarke’s outfit racked up 19 shots to the hosts’ nine — they will need to be more clinical to avoid an upset at the Zimbru Stadium.

Respect the opposition

Moldova's Artur Ionita was a marauding midfield presence for Benevento last season
Moldova's Artur Ionita was a marauding midfield presence for Benevento last season

Moldova may be short on star quality but coach Roberto Bordin has made them a tough unit to break down.

That was certainly true when Scotland edged their September meeting in Glasgow 1-0, while Israel only won 2-1 against the Moldovans in their previous outing.

Left-back Oleg Reabciuk plays for reigning Greek champions Olympiacos and midfielder Artur Ionita was plying his trade with Benevento in Serie A last season.

Frontman Ion Nicolaescu already has two goals in qualification too, so there are plenty of threats for Scotland to nullify this evening.

Attack, attack, attack

Despite those narrow scorelines against some of the continent’s less decorated nations, Moldova have been known to collapse against stronger sides.

Denmark beat them by an aggregate score of 12-0 over their two matches, contributing to a total of 24 goals conceded in Group F — seven more than next-worst outfit the Faroe Islands.

Scotland have struggled to find their shooting boots in every qualifying match this side of Euro 2020, bar the 3-2 win over Israel in October.

Brown’s the man

Jacob Brown has managed a commendable nine goal contributions for Stoke in the Championship this term
Jacob Brown has managed a commendable nine goal contributions for Stoke in the Championship this term

Injuries and suspensions have handed Clarke a number of selection headaches ahead of this evening’s crunch encounter.

Norwich defender Grant Hanley is out with a groin injury, while Dykes and Ryan Christie are suspended.

That could hand an opportunity to uncapped Stoke striker Jacob Brown — and Potters’ manager Michael O'Neill believes he is well-suited to international football.

Speaking after Brown scored the match-winning goal against Luton on Saturday, he said: "I know what international football is like away from home, where you need a striker that can cover distances.

"Jacob’s able to do that, so I’m delighted for him he’s in the Scotland squad.

"He doesn’t have to go in there and make a big impression in his first trip, he has to go in there and enjoy it and I think Steve [Clarke] will see if he’s needed. He’ll do a good job for them."

Adams to make an impact

Southampton's Che Adams will hope to become more consistent in front of goal as the season progresses
Southampton's Che Adams will hope to become more consistent in front of goal as the season progresses

With Scotland’s four-goal joint-top scorer Dykes missing, Southampton forward Che Adams will be more important than ever.

In contrast to the QPR striker, Adams has only netted once for his country in qualifying and has just one league goal at club level this term.

However, there is more to the 25-year-old’s game than just goals — he has won back possession in the final third more times than all but six Premier League players per 90 minutes this season (1.41) and has created 0.31 big chances per 90 for his team-mates.

The Saints’ attacker needs to score more for club and country but his all-round quality could be the difference between success and failure in Chisinau tonight.

Tags

ScotlandMoldovaWorld Cup

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