Euro 2020 play-off final
Scots ready for their shot at glory in Belgrade
Destiny: Scots defeated Israel in semi-final (pic: SNS Group)
Scotland’s date with destiny in Belgrade is looming large, with Steve Clarke’s side on the verge of a first major final since 1998.
For a nation which lives and breathes football, 22 years is an eternity to wait to take such a shot at glory.
Serbia, 15 places above the Scots in the FIFA world rankings, stand between them and qualification for Euro 2020.
The winner-takes-all encounter on Thursday is being staged at the Rajko Mitic Stadium, although with no fans in attendance the occasion will be lacking the atmosphere it deserves.
The home side, qualifiers for the World Cup in 2018, will be favourites to progress after defeating Norway in Oslo in the play-off semi-final.
If Scotland can cope with the pressure – as they did so impressively in the penalty shoot-out win over Israel at Hampden Park – and the expectations of a nation – they could well have enough to complete a famous victory.
Clarke’s tactics have produced results, with the Scots having now gone unbeaten in eight matches. It hasn’t been pretty to watch on occasion but you won’t find the Tartan Army complaining if the team can scrap its way to its most significant victory in recent times.
Scotland have played Serbia twice before, failing to score in either game, the last meeting a 2-0 defeat in Novi Sad as part of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. Goalkeeper David Marshall is the only member of the current squad to have played a part in that match.
Assistant manager Steven Reid said: “We’re going into this now with a group of players that have played more and more football.
“In the last camp we still had to deal with some players in pre-season and others perhaps still getting up to match tempo, but by now the lads have played a lot of games and the squad is looking strong.
“We have a squad that is more than capable of getting a result that’s for sure. Obviously, the motivation and prize up for grabs at the end of it will hopefully take us to another level of performance.
“It’s important the lads step out on to the pitch, grasp it with both hands and leave the pitch with no regrets.”
Kick-off is 7.45pm live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm and also free-to-air on Sky Pick. It can be live streamed via the app. There is also live radio commentary.
- Goalkeepers: Marshall (Derby County), McLaughlin (Rangers), Gordon (Heart of Midlothian).
- Defenders: Considine (Aberdeen), Gallagher (Motherwell), McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Cooper (Leeds United), O’Donnell (Motherwell), Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Robertson (Liverpool), Tierney (Arsenal), Taylor (Celtic)
- Midfielders: McTominay (Manchester United), Christie (Celtic), McGregor (Celtic), Armstrong (Southampton), Jack (Rangers), McGinn (Aston Villa), Kenny McLean (Norwich City)
- Forwards: Dykes (QPR), Burke (Sheffield United), McBurnie (Sheffield United), Griffiths (Celtic), Paterson (Sheffield Wednesday), Shankland (Dundee United)
Ryan Fraser and Grant Hanley pulled out through injury