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WC Qualification Europe

  • 11 September 2012
  • • 20:00
  • • Hampden Park, Glasgow
  • Referee: S. Karasev
  • • Attendance: 32430
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Scotland - Macedonia FYR Preview: Levein sticks to his guns as his goal-shy side seek vital win

Scotland - Macedonia FYR Preview: Levein sticks to his guns as his goal-shy side seek vital win

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After a drab 0-0 draw at home to Serbia on Saturday, the pressure is on the hosts to pick up all three points when Hampden plays host to their Eastern European opponents

  PROBABLE LINEUPS


SCOTLAND


McGregor
Hutton, Webster, Berra, Dixon
Caldwell
Naismith, Morrison, Adam
, Snodgrass
Miller
MACEDONIA FYR

Bogatinov
Georgievski, Shikov, Noveski, Popov
Ibraimi, Demiri, Gligorov, Trickovski
Ristic, Pandev

Scotland manager Craig Levein is unlikely to stray from his favoured 4-1-4-1 formation, despite public outcry for him to introduce more firepower to the team after the drab 0-0 draw against Serbia.

The boss is expected to perservere with the 32-year-old Kenny Miller up front, with Jordan Rhodes and Jamie Mackie once again restricted to a place on the bench.

Steven Naismith could yet find himself suspended for the match for his forearm smash on Serbia's Srdan Mijailovic, depending on Fifa's assessment of Saturday's official match report.

There are minor injury concerns over goalkeeper Allan McGregor and right-back Alan Hutton, who are suffering from slight groin and calf twinges respectively. Full-backs Charlie Mulgrew, Russell Martin and Danny Fox are still sidelined.

Macedonia, meanwhile, are expected to stick with the same line-up that served them well in Friday's trip to Croatia, when they were unlucky to come away with a 1-0 defeat.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Scotland have only won three of their nine competitive matches under Craig Levein, with two of those coming in narrow victories against minnows Liechtenstein.
  • The Tartan Army were drawn against Macedonia in qualifying for the previous World Cup, when they lost 1-0 away before triumphing 2-0 at Hampden Park.
  • The Scots managed just nine goals in eight games during qualification for Euro 2012, conceding 10.
  • Kenny Miller (pictured right) and Steven Naismith were their top-scorers in that qualifying campaign, with two goals apiece
  • Should Scotland fail to qualify for Brazil 2014, it will be the longest period in their history without competing at a World Cup finals
  • Liverpool legend John Toshack was sacked as manager of Macedonia in August after a year in charge, reportedly for refusing to relocate to the Balkan nation.
  • Left-back Goran Popov recently moved on loan to West Brom from Dynamo Kiev, following in the footsteps of fellow Macedonian international Artim Sakiri, who also briefly plied his trade at the Hawthorns.
  • Macedonia have only won two World Cup qualifiers away from home in 21 attempts since becoming a Fifa member in 1994.

Players to watch

R. Snodgrass

Position: Midfielder

Games: 5

  • 2
  • 3
  • 1
Scotland have struggled for a bit of guile since the unfortunate demise of James McFadden, whose career has been derailed by injury in recent years. The livewire attacker's ability to produce the unexpected added a cutting edge to an otherwise functional side, and this has not really been successfully replaced. One man capable of filling this hole is winger Robert Snodgrass, who has taken to life in the Premier League seamlessly since moving to Norwich from Leeds in the summer. After bagging 13 goals last season and providing 14 more, he has already opened his account for the Canaries, and his debut strike against Denmark last August suggested that he could carry that threat onto the international stage. The former Livingston man looked as likely as anyone to break the deadlock on Saturday, and Levein will be hoping to see him on form in this crucial clash.

G. Pandev

Position: Attacker

Games: 8

  • 0
  • 3
  • 0
Napoli striker Goran Pandev has been a central figure for Macedonia since making his debut as an 18-year-old in 2001. The skipper has 65 caps for his country, and his 25 goals make him the all-time top scorer in the former Yugoslav republic's short history. At the age of 29, and with a decade's experience of playing at the top level with Lazio, Inter and Napoli in Italy's Serie A, he is the undisputed heartbeat of the national side, and undoubtedly his country's finest footballer since 1991 European Cup winner Darko Pancev. His lively performance against Croatia on Friday threatened to inspire an upset, and he was inches away with a 30-yard strike that cannoned back off the crossbar.

Editor's Prediction

Scotland should be grateful that their inability to hit the back of the net is seemingly shared by Tuesday's opponents, who have only scored four in their last 10 away from home.

The Hampden crowd are sure to become edgy if their team fail to make a breakthrough early on, but they should be on top from the beginning. A lack of cutting edge will be the main obstacle, and it may take a Charlie Adam set-piece or the long-awaited introduction of Jordan Rhodes to make a difference, but Levein would be more than happy with a one goal win. On this occasion, he should be rewarded. Just.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Scotland

FYR Macedonia

Wins
2
1
1
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Scotland SCO
Scotland Scotland
Draw
FYR Macedonia MKD
FYR Macedonia FYR Macedonia
38%
48%

Top 3 Predictions

Scotland SCO
0 - 1
FYR Macedonia MKD
Scotland SCO
1 - 2
FYR Macedonia MKD
Scotland SCO
2 - 0
FYR Macedonia MKD

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