Russia v Scotland: Lessons learned from Hampden defeat
|Euro 2020 Qualifying Group I: Russia v Scotland|
|Venue: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow Date: Thursday, 10 October Kick-off: 19:45 BST|
|Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland and follow live commentary on the BBC Sport Scotland website and app|
Scotland face Russia in Moscow on Thursday night still licking their wounds from the 2-1 defeat by their Group I rivals last month.
The Hampden loss means it would take a remarkable turnaround for Scotland to gain one of the two Euro 2020 qualification spots from the group.
That leaves their realistic hopes of reaching next summer's tournaments resting on the Nations League play-offs in March.
However, manager Steve Clarke is calling for his team to try and gain maximum points from the remaining four qualifiers.
Here, BBC Scotland takes a look at the challenge facing his side in Moscow, and what they can learn from just under five weeks ago.
- Scotland fans want Shankland and Gallagher
- 'No free hits' vows Clarke
- Clarke had 'winning formula' at Findlay
Russia's key men
Zenit Saint Petersburg striker Artem Dzyuba has continued his impressive start to the season following his goalscoring performance against Scotland last month.
At club level, the Russian skipper has been directly involved in six goals in the six games that have followed his side's 2-1 victory at Hampden in September, registering two goals and four assists - including the opening goal in Zenit's 3-1 victory over Benfica in the Champions League.
Aleksandr Golovin orchestrated a man of the match performance in Glasgow, with BBC Scotland's Tom English describing him as being "on a different level to anybody in blue" that evening.
The 23-year-old has suffered mixed fortunes since his stellar display at Hampden. In his last five games, the Monaco-man has grabbed two goals and an assist, all of which came in one match-winning display in a 3-1 victory over Nice.
However, in the playmaker's last outing, things did not go to plan as Golovin was given his marching orders after accumulating two yellow cards in a 3-1 defeat away to Montpellier.
What went wrong at Hampden?
Scotland head coach Clarke could not have asked for a better start when John McGinn netted the opener after just 10 minutes at Hampden, but in the words of Scotland captain Andy Robertson: "It was as if the goal scared us."
Clarke also lamented how his side stopped pressing the visitors. It appeared that, following the opening goal, the game plan was to stay on the front foot, but what followed was the opposite.
"For a reason I have yet to determine, we stepped off the game and allowed Russia to dominate us and impose their style of play on us," he said.
"Why we allowed that game to drift away from us, whether it's a mental thing or a quality thing, we will need to assess."
Forwards were isolated and the home side's failure to keep the ball created anxiety on and off the field.
With Scotland likely to face large spells of the game in Moscow without possession, they must ensure that any time on the ball is not wasted.
Where can Scotland exploit?
Going by the Russian's previous defensive line-ups, the average age comes in at 30. Could Scotland look to exploit the hosts with pace on the counter-attack?
Oliver McBurnie has dropped out of the squad, but Clarke has Oliver Burke, Johnny Russell and Lawrence Shankland - three forwards that thrive on making runs in behind opposition defences.
However, to avoid a repeat of the reverse fixture, where McBurnie was often left isolated, Scotland must ensure they give support to the front man, with Ryan Christie looking like the most viable option to be the link between midfield and attack.
After a shortage of centre-halves who are out due to injury, Clarke has had to rethink his defensive line up, bringing in two replacements; Kilmarnock defender Stuart Findlay and Motherwell's Declan Gallagher.
Clarke managed Findlay at club level previously, so a mutual understanding of their skills and strategies could be an advantage for Scotland. Findlay said: "I could tell straight away that [his tactics] are similar to the way he worked at Kilmarnock - it was a winning formula and I've got a lot of confidence that this strategy will breed success for Scotland.
"I've worked with him long enough to know exactly how he works - and how he gets the boys to play his way. I'm very confident that the results for Scotland will go the way we need them to soon."