5 talking points ahead of Scotland’s crucial clash with Israel

Scotland take on Israel in their crucial Nations League clash at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.

Alex McLeish’s side need to win to take them into the play-offs for the 2020 European Championships.

Here, Football Paradise looks at five talking points ahead of the final Group C1 fixture.

Can McLeish’s side get over the line?

Scotland need any sort of victory to put them top of the section.

It is a huge night for McLeish, perhaps his biggest with Scotland since 2007 when, during his first period in charge, Italy visited in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

The Italians ended Scottish dreams and ensured their own qualification for the finals thanks to a Christian Panucci stoppage-time goal.

Can Scotland do it this time?

Wonder boys on wing again?

The performances of in-form Ryan Fraser and James Forrest, among others, against Albania excited the 2,000-plus Tartan Army members who made their way to Shkoder and those watching on television back home.

Amid a thrilling display of pace and directness by both players, Bournemouth’s Fraser’s got the visitors off to an encouraging start with his first goal in dark blue after 14 minutes and Celtic attacker Forrest grabbed a double in the second-half, his first two goals for the national team.

McLeish must surely start again with two exciting players who are in such fine fettle.

Paterson to answer the call again

Callum Paterson in action for Scotland against Albania (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

The Cardiff City striker was called up for his good form in attack this season but numerous call-offs meant he was played at right-back in Shkoder.

The former Hearts player had featured there for club and country in the past but admitted afterwards that, “it’s not my favourite position.”

McLeish insisted that Paterson was too hard on himself and the praise he heaped upon him at the pre-match press conference suggested he will likely be asked to play full-back again.

Israel will be confident

Israel’s 2-1 victory over Scotland in Haifa was only by the odd goal but it could have been by so much more.

It was a poor performance by McLeish’s side who were lucky to escape with such a narrow scoreline.

Granted, half the side which started in Israel on October 11 are not available to McLeish for various reasons, but the Israel experience needs to be expunged from the squad ahead of the rematch at Hampden.

But history is on Scotland’s side. In their only previous visit to Hampden Park, Israel lost 3-1 to the Scots in a World Cup qualifier in 1981.

Club sides have fared no better. Hapoel Tel Aviv have lost three times in Scotland, and Hapoel Beer Sheva, Beitar Jerusalem, Maccabi Haifa have all lost once.

Can Israel buck the trend or is it set to be another night of success for the Scots?

Fan-tastic backing?

There has been an element of apathy around the Scotland national side in recent times, with below-capacity gates at Hampden Park even for the visits of class acts such as Belgium and Portugal in friendly matches.

After the emphatic win against Albania, former Scotland defender McLeish called for the Tartan Army to pack out the national stadium and cheer his side on to victory.

A huge crowd at the national stadium will undoubtedly boost the chances of the Scots but will those calls be heeded?

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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