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World Cup qualifier: Scotland v Croatia match preview

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Without a single win at home in their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign, Scotland will look upon Tuesday night’s match against Croatia as a game where Gordon Strachan’s side can save face and give the nation a boost.

Scotland have not reached a major football competition in 15 years, since World Cup 1998 in France, and next summer we will once again look on as Brazil welcomes the world to their shores to contest the 2014 World Cup.

Tuesday night’s game for Croatia is seen as nothing more than a ‘training exercise’ according to Croatia’s head coach Igor Stimac. Croatia, despite being top seeds in Group A, were beaten to top spot by a superb Belgian side and will have to resign themselves to the play-offs for a place in Brazil.

Stimac, speaking on Monday, said: “We are not under any pressure. We are in the play-offs. So this game will be kind of a training session for us.”

Despite Stimac fobbing off the game as nothing more than a training match, he insisted that his side would not be taking it easy against the Scots, adding: “It is very important to win every game.”

Meanwhile, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is looking for a much improved performance from his players at home, he said: “Our away form is better than our home form and what we have to do is improve our home form if we want to qualify for a tournament. Away from home, we’ve done a lot of good things. So we’ve got a couple of systems that we know the players can use and we can use in the next qualifying campaign to get results. But we have to change the system a bit – but not much. There is more emphasis on us to go and get the ball and be really positive.

“Our task is just to try to go out and win games – to find a system that will suit our players at this moment in time. It is unfortunate that we have a lot of attacking players out at the moment who we would like in the squad.

“The onus is on us to go and win the game and show intention to win the game – and that can leave you a bit exposed at times. But that is what you’ve got to do as the home side and, if you want to progress in tournaments, you’ve got to try to win your home ties at least.”

Croatia have never beaten Scotland, managing only one draw and three defeats with the latest fixture between the two sides ending in victory for Scotland, thanks to a solitary 26 minute goal from Robert Snodgrass.

Snodgrass is 9/1 to score the first goal of the game, through Betfair, while fellow Scotland team mate Charlie Mulgrew is 50/1. However, Croatian hitman Mario Mandzukic is favourite to score the first goal of the game at odds of 6/1.

The Croatians have gone six games without a clean sheet and three games without a win in their World Cup qualifying campaign, they are 23/20 to win the tie, while a draw is at odds of 12/5.

Scotland, despite their lowly ranking in the group were boosted by their win over Croatia in June and are 11/5 to win their final World Cup qualifier, with odds of 9/1 for a repeat of June’s 1-0 win.

We shall have a review of Scotland’s World Cup campaign in the next coming days.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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