Wednesday 23 May 2018

Levein to abandon negative tactics for Spanish test

Roddy Forsyth

Craig Levein is adamant he cares little for anyone else's opinion but the Scotland manager must surely have appreciated the verdict on his tactics in the defeat by the Czech Republic that was handed down by Vicente del Bosque yesterday.

If Levein is open to a compliment, there could hardly be a more irreproachable source than the man in charge of the world and European champions. Invited to pronounce on the controversial 4-6-0 formation used by the Scots in their 1-0 defeat last Friday, Del Bosque said: "I think the tactics employed by the Czech Republic, who had two very attacking midfielders who were getting forward at every opportunity, almost obliged Scotland to play in that style.

"We will see a more attacking Scotland. They are at home, they are in front of their own fans and they will be driven forward by their supporters.

"We will be very much prepared for whatever tactics Scotland adopt. At club level, lots of our players come up against these types of tactics. We will be looking at ways to combat it on counter-attacking and looking at ways to combat it from dead-ball situations. We've got sufficient alternative ways of playing to be able to combat various defensive formations."

Levein, meanwhile, declared Spain to be arguably the best side ever to have faced Scotland -- indeed, the best side ever to have played. Asked what secured them that status, Levein said: "They've won the European Championship and the World Cup. There are not many teams who have done that... if you look at the trophies won by the players in the Spain squad, at club as well as international level, then you are looking at some of the best who have ever played football."

Such mutual courtesies aside, tonight's encounter seems, from most perspectives, akin to a sniper taking on a tank regiment. One may even ask if Scotland's resources actually run to a single sharpshooter, given the disparity between the sides.

Yet, Levein knows that in front of a capacity crowd at Hampden, he must expand Scotland's ambition against a Spain side capable of proceeding through Group I without shedding a point. "If we lose, everyone jumps on the bandwagon and has a go, if we win everyone jumps on the back of a good result," Levein said. "I really do not care whether the media like the way we play. What I am bothered about is getting a group of players together who will do what they are asked to do.

"We played one game in the Czech Republic where we played in a different way. In the previous games I did not play that system but in the Czech Republic I felt that was the right thing to do. People seem to forget we played differently in the prior games. We will play a different way against Spain." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Scotland v Spain Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

Irish Independent

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