The Tartan Army kicked off qualifying for that morally dubious tournament with a 2-2 draw at home to second-seeded Austria.
The away side took the lead twice on the night. With respective equalisers from Grant Hanley, and in spectacular fashion John McGinn, salvaging a deserved point in the end.
The night was packed full of action meaning there were plenty of talking points to discuss, so here are three things we took away!
Kieran Tierney Might be Scotland’s Best Player
Steve Clarke’s five at the back set-up does what many Scottish fans feared their national side would never do, find a solution to the Robertson-Tierney dilemma.
The Liverpool full-back’s more advanced wing-back role might leave some to fear Tierney’s attacking potential isn’t quite fulfilled, but his performance last night proved this is clearly not the case.
On multiple occasions the 23-year-old would pick the ball up from deep and drive into the heart of Austria’s midfield, helping Scotland essentially shift themselves up the park and get well into final-third. At this point, he would often have either Robertson overlapping on his left, or one of the midfielders/strikers available on the right.
If you’re an Austrian player you might think this is easy enough to prevent. Close Tierney down before he gets the chance to drive, but it’s not quite that simple. Their forwards tried again and again to close him down but by the point they got anywhere near, they were already chasing his shadow, Tierney would have skipped by into the space.
It’s clear to see how much of Scotland’s attack was influenced down that left-hand side, if a serious challenge on the top two seeds is to be mounted Tierney’s form could well play a huge part.
Marshall is a Hero – but not one without faults
Don’t get the pitchforks out just yet!
We all know the recently crowned player of the year has deservedly engraved his name firmly into the history books, even the most experienced of Scotland fans would tell you that iconic penalty save in Belgrade was one of the peaks in our country’s footballing history.
What we learned in the Austria game, and perhaps the Slovakia game as well, is that our goalkeeper might just be a human after all.
In both matches Marshall has had a slight tendency to parry shots back in-front of him rather than to the side and away from the danger. Whilst the Derby stopper might’ve gotten away with this in Trnava, he wasn’t so lucky last night as Sasa Kalajdzic pounced on the mistake to give his side the lead.
That being said, the 36-year-old has more than earned the number one jersey at Hampden, and despite this will no doubt continue to be our first choice goalkeeper for the foreseeable future.
Christie Continues to Impress
It’s been a year with plenty of ups and downs for Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie. Just 12 goal involvements so far in his club campaign will no doubt frustrate the Highlander, but cementing a place as one of Steve Clarke’s key players on the international stage can certainly be looked back on with pride.
Deployed as almost a strike partner to Lyndon Dykes, Christie was able to rack up some impressive creative numbers. In the 90 minutes only David Alaba (which is pretty strong competition) outscored in both key passes and expected assists. As well as this his six dribbles and two shots on target portray he’s not just a creative threat but also a dangerous one on his own, making it easier to see why new recruit Che Adams wasn’t immediately thrown into the side.
All in all Scotland have discovered a very effective playmaker in the final third, perhaps the assist to McGinn was fairly unorthodox, but had Armstrong hit the target early in the second-half from the Celtic man’s layoff we might’ve seen him get much more of the credit he deserves.
International football matches often come down to these finest of margins, and last night proved again that Ryan Christie can provide that little bit of spark Scotland had perhaps been missing in years gone by.
Featured Image Credit – talkSPORT