Scotland v Malta: Steven Thompson says patience will be required at Hampden

Scotland midfielder Stuart Armstrong
Scotland midfielder Stuart Armstrong was "outstanding" against Lithuania

Former Scotland striker Steven Thompson says the national team will need to "be patient" against Malta as they try to maintain their World Cup qualifying hopes at Hampden.

He believes Gordon Strachan's team has enough attacking ability to create chances against Group F's bottom side.

But Thompson reckons Malta will be defensive and difficult to break down.

"I expect us to win comfortably, but they're going to get 10 men behind the ball," Thompson told BBC Scotland.

"It's a team sitting on no points, they've only scored two goals in the seven games so far and they've conceded 19.

"We're going to have to break them down. I believe we have the quality to do that and if we play anywhere like the way we did on Friday night then we'll do that comfortably."

Scotland defender Andrew Robertson
Scotland defender Andrew Robertson scored the second goal against Lithuania in a 3-0 win

Confidence is high within the Scotland squad following Friday's 3-0 win over Lithuania, a victory that moved Scotland into third place in Group F.

They are four points behind Slovakia in second place, and realistically need to win all three remaining games - against Malta, Slovakia at home and Slovenia away - to finish runners-up and reach the play-offs.

"I've never seen a Scotland team create as many opportunities as we did against Lithuania, we had something like 23 shots on goal, so I've no problem believing that we will create opportunities," Thompson said.

"It will be difficult at times, because they'll be defending with all their men behind the ball.

"But we've got players in the forward areas who will cause any teams problems, [Leigh] Griffiths, [James] Forrest, [Matt] Phillips, [Matt] Ritchie, and add into the mix [Stuart] Armstrong, who was outstanding on Friday night.

"I thought [Strachan's] team was very attacking in Lithuania and it will be roughly the same idea tonight. We will have to trust and believe in each other that we will create enough opportunities to get a goal. Once we get the first goal, hopefully then the floodgates will open.

England striker harry Kane scores against Malta
England did not break the deadlock against Malta until Harry Kane's 53rd minute strike

"There's always pressure playing for your country. They've turned this group around, it really did look gone after that England defeat down at Wembley, but if they win tonight they will have taken 10 points from the last 12 available.

"They know they need to win these next three games and it will be a case of getting this one out of the way tonight."

Malta lost 4-0 at home to England on Friday night, but frustrated the Group F leaders until the 53rd minute. Even once the deadlock was broken, England did not score again until the 85th minute.

"They had a difficult game against England," Thompson said. "They played really well for large spells of the match and contained England's threat.

"They'll enjoy coming to Hampden, it won't be a full house, but it's still a fantastic stadium to play in and they'll try to make it as difficult as they can for Scotland. They're well-drilled but we have the quality and the belief now to break them down."

Top Stories