With the World Cup on the horizon, the build-up to the tournament has been hotting up as the latest new players are announced for friendlies as teams prepare to join the party. The latest result saw Scotland demolish Austria at the weekend, with the Scots managing to scrape a win over the stubborn country after some impressive first half performances.
Austria were handed their first ever defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield, but if you blinked you would have missed it. The Austrians were completely overawed by the occasion and made several defensive errors that nearly cost them the game. They were sloppy with the ball and gave up free kicks and penalties which were converted by the Scots.
The national team is not the only consolation of the Scottish team at the moment, their country is also one of the most peaceful in the world.
Austria’s victory only means that the following game will be a cup final. Clarke,
Good night, Vienna, and welcome to the World Cup? A Scotland victory hasn’t seemed so significant since James McFadden smashed one into the top corner from 30 yards in Paris.
Steve Clarke’s side shocked second-seeded Austria, whose global rating of 23 is 26 places higher than Scotland’s, to reclaim control of their 2022 World Cup qualification fate.
A Lyndon Dykes penalty clinched the historic 1-0 win as the country aspires to win back-to-back major championships and its first World Cup since 1998. Has there been a greater Scotland victory in the last 15 years?
In the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, France was notably defeated both at home and away. At October 2006, Gary Caldwell scored the game-winning goal at Hampden, while McFadden’s thunderbolt in the Parc des Princes the following year is permanently engraved in Scotland supporters’ minds.
Those historic victories should have sent the national team into the finals on a high note. Instead, Scotland faltered towards the finish line, losing to Georgia and Italy and missing out on the celebration. Again.
Significant scalps have been hard to come by in the years afterwards. Croatia, the world’s fourth best team at the time, was defeated in Zagreb and Glasgow within four months of each other in 2013. They were, however, meaningless wins, since Scotland was already out of contention for the World Cup the following year.
A 3-2 win against Israel at Hampden secured a spot in the Euro 2020 play-offs and promotion to the Nations League. However, Israel is far from a global football powerhouse.
And, although Scotland won an exciting play-off with Serbia in November to qualify for the Euros, it came after extra time and penalties, breaking a 23-year hiatus from major championships.
Austria is hard to top for a nicer 90-minute Scotland victory.
‘Scotland put forth so much effort… McGinn seemed to be on the verge of collapsing at moments.’
Scotland reclaims its’swagger’
It was also Clarke and his men’s ideal reaction in the face of mounting misgivings and criticism.
The mood music was becoming gloomy until the Austrians were turned over on their own turf, after a winless Euro 2020, a humiliating loss in Denmark, and a scrappy triumph against Moldova.
Pick a position and a Scotland standout will emerge. Billy Gilmour hadn’t played an international match beyond the under-21 level until a little over three months ago. Six caps later, the precocious 20-year-old is the midfield’s metronomic staple.
Gilmour had the most passes of any Scotland player in Vienna, with just Callum McGregor edging him out in terms of accuracy. To assist alleviate pressure, the Norwich City loanee grabbed possession 10 times, two more than any other teammate.
It wasn’t a one-time occurrence, either. Opta figures show the Chelsea teenager rated top in his squad for touches (213), passes (171), effective passes (144), and possession gained in Scotland’s triple-header this month against Denmark, Moldova, and Austria (23). He was second in tackles (7) and opportunities produced for good measure (4).
Grant Hanley and Jack Hendry, who were frequently overlooked by more celebrated defensive teammates Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson, were heroic in holding the hosts at bay, while Dykes and Che Adams also had a hand in the deciding penalty and relished the opportunity to ruffle Austria’s feathers.
On Sportscene, former Scotland winger Neil McCann stated, “There was no failure.” “Up front, Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes displayed incredible work ethic. John McGinn seemed to be depleted at times and then re-energized. Jack Hendry is rapidly establishing himself as a vital member of the defense.
“This was a huge accomplishment. Steve Clarke has suddenly discovered a formula and instilled confidence in his players that they can play with a little of swagger and get huge results.”
The defense’s case
Under Clarke, Scotland will never be prolific scorers, but a defensive masterpiece may go a long way.
Scotland had only scored once in three games at Euro 2020, then drew a blank in Denmark and only managed a solitary goal against minnows Moldova.
Even though the winner in Austria came from a penalty kick – and only after VAR interfered – Scotland’s defensive strength was the key to their triumph. Craig Gordon’s lone significant stop came in the 79th minute because he was so well protected.
“Clarke’s qualifications are to bring out a squad that is very hard to defeat,” Willie Miller, a former Scotland defense stalwart, said on Sportsound. Anything above that is considered a bonus.
“They’ve produced another couple of decent opportunities tonight, but his strength is getting teams organized. That is why, based on tonight’s results, we all believe he is the correct guy.”
Craig Levein, a former Scotland defender and manager, agreed: “We haven’t defended as effectively as we could have in recent games, but that is Clarke’s strong suit. That performance blew me away.”
The world of football is bizarre. I was in the stands to watch Scotland play Austria in a friendly game in Glasgow, and in the oddest of ways, it almost felt like the game was being played in an entirely different universe. It’s not just the fact that Scotland defeated Austria in a friendly to earn their first World Cup points in the modern era, but the way in which it happened.. Read more about scotland v austria results and let us know what you think.
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