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WC Qualification Europe

  • 22 March 2013
  • • 20:00
  • • Hampden Park, Glasgow
  • Referee: A. Gautier
  • • Attendance: 39365

Scotland - Wales Preview: Bale expected to be fit as visitors eye double over Scots

Scotland - Wales Preview: Bale expected to be fit as visitors eye double over Scots

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Gordon Strachan's first competitive match in charge sees the hosts looking to avenge a 2-1 reverse in the previous fixture back in October

Gordan Strachan’s first competitive squad has seen four withdrawals on top of absences to key midfield duo Darren Fletcher and Scott Brown but he is able to choose from a near-full strength forward line including Steven Fletcher, Jordan Rhodes and Kris Commons.

Ross McCormack (Leeds United), Danny Fox (Southampton), James Morrison (West Brom) and James Forrest (Celtic) all dropped out of the side with injury so Barry Bannan (Aston Villa) and Stephen Whittaker (Norwich City) have been drafted in.

Gareth Bale looks set to start after recovering from an ankle knock sustained in Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Fulham at the weekend, as the explosive star missed training on Tuesday. West Ham’s Jack Collinson and James Collins are likely to feature as is David Vaughan of Sunderland, who was also absent from Tuesday’s training.

Strachan opted for a very attacking line-up in the recent friendly win against Estonia and is expected to follow suit here as the Scots look to get revenge for the 2-1 defeat in Cardiff last year.

Wales enjoyed the same scoreline in their last game over Austria, with Chris Coleman using an unusual set-up of Collison and Bale either side of Craig Bellamy in attack.

Liverpool’s Joe Allen and Leeds United’s Steve Morison have withdrawn from Coleman’s squad with Jermaine Easter of Millwall and Lewin Nyatanga of Bristol City coming in as replacements.

  • When Scotland beat Wales 3-1 in the short-lived Carling Nations Cup in 2011, it was the first time they had beat their Home Nations rivals in 27 years.
  • The top scorer this season from either squad is not Bale though, that honour goes to Blackburn Rovers’ Jordan Rhodes, whose haul of 26 strikes narrowly beats the Spurs star’s by just one goal.
  • Wales have won two consecutive competitive games just twice in the last eight years, after following their 2-1 win over Scotland with a 2-0 defeat to Croatia.
  • Kenny Miller, currently of Vancouver Whitecaps, is the sixth highest scorer in Scotland history with 17 goals. He is just two short of Ally McCoist’s 19 and 13 off the top spot, held by Denis Law and Kenny Dalglish with 30 each.
  • With their last transfer topping £20 million between them, Scotland’s potential strike partnership of Steven Fletcher (pictured right) and Jordan Rhodes have amassed a stunning 99 goals in their last two seasons between them in all competitions

Players to watch

A. Hutton

Position: Defender

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The right-back has floundered since his £9 million move from Rangers to Tottenham Hotspur back in 2008 after a series of top class performances in the Champions League alerted Spurs to his ability. Unfortunately the Scot has not lived up to that billing or that hefty price tag and was loaned to Sunderland before joining Aston Villa on a Bosman in 2011. Poor attitude and disciplinary issues followed and Hutton was loaned out to Nottingham Forest and now Real Mallorca by new boss Paul Lambert. Hutton has been receiving great reviews for his performances in Spain and did a very good job of marking Cristiano Ronaldo recently, limiting the Real Madrid star to just one goal. With the likes of Ramsey, Ledley, Bellamy and Collinson all threatening in addition to the obvious dangers posed by Bale, Hutton will need to take the lessons from those 90 minutes against Ronaldo and put them to good use here.

G. Bale

Position: Attacker

Games: 4

  • 4
  • 1
  • 0
Of course it would have to be him. Not only has he scored more goals this year than he ever has, he is fast becoming one of the most sought-after players in world football thanks to his young age, venomous instincts in front of goal and a versatile attacking threat that has drawn him comparisons to a young version of Hutton’s recent opponent Ronaldo. Bale broke Scottish hearts when the sides met last time in qualifying, scoring two late goals to steal a 2-1 victory for Wales.

Editor's Prediction

Scotland have a better squad than Wales across the board barring Bale of course. The Scots are more sound defensively and carry a greater goalscoring threat, again outside of Bale. This is Gordan Strachan’s first qualifying tie and the players will be keen to impress the new boss in front of a bumper home crowd eager for revenge for that 2-1 loss in Cardiff, so a top Scotland performance is probable. A big criticism of Strachan’s predecessor Craig Levein was his refusal to adopt an attacking line-up despite the plethora of offensive options available to him. No such problems are expected under Strachan’s tenure and the reliable goalscoring exploits of Steven Fletcher and Jordan Rhodes should eclipse the dynamite potential of Bale.

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Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Scotland SCO
Scotland Scotland
Wales WAL
Wales Wales

Top 3 Predictions

Scotland SCO
1 - 2
Wales WAL
Scotland SCO
2 - 1
Wales WAL
Scotland SCO
1 - 1
Wales WAL