Levein defends defensive Scotland approach

GLASGOW - Scotland manager Craig Levein defended his widely-criticised defensive approach on Monday but said he would "have a go" at world champions Spain in Tuesday's Euro 2012 qualifier.

Levein played without any recognised forward in a formation described by local media as "4-6-0" in the Czech Republic on Friday and lost a tight game 1-0.

He was asked if he had been stung by criticism of the tactic.

"You're assuming I have read any papers, which I haven't," he told reporters. "I am very positive about this match. In fact I'm excited and looking forward to it, and the players are too."

"Here's how it works: I got the job and the job is to try and qualify for the Euros. I'll do that the way I think is right. If it causes a little bit of a stooshie (fight) and some of you press guys get upset, then so what?," he told reporters.

"That's not my concern. I've got a group of players who I believe I can work with and who everybody who watched against the Czech Republic realised they put everything they had into the match. For me, that's a great starting point and we move on."

Having drawn in Lithuania and snatched a stoppage-time win over Liechtenstein, Scotland have four points from three games and would be delighted to take anything from the two matches against overwhelming group favourites and European champions Spain.

"We are probably facing the best team Scotland have ever played, that's how highly I rate Spain," Levein said.

"We'll have a go and see what we can do.

"It's a game that we'll try and express ourselves and try and win. I'll name the team as per normal this evening."


Alan Hutton, Gary Caldwell, Steven Whittaker and Graham Dorrans sustained minor injuries in Prague but Scotland fans will be more interested to see if a striker makes the team.

Spain coach Vincente del Bosque is long used to facing sides intent on defending with 11 men but said he expected the Scots to show a bit more ambition in front of their own fans.

"I don't think so (that they will play defensively) because they played with two central midfielders as forwards and they only pushed forward when they fell a goal behind," he said of the Czech Republic match.

"Tomorrow, as the home team backed by their fans, they will try to attack our goal more than the other day."

Spain have a number of key players missing through injury, including playmaker Xavi and forwards Fernando Torres and Pedro.

Midfielder Xabi Alonso missed the Lithuania game due to a bout of flu but was back in training on Sunday, while Sergio Ramos is expected to shake off a minor leg injury.

Del Bosque's last visit to Hampden Park was in 2002 when his Real Madrid team beat Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League final thanks to Zinedine Zidane's brilliant volley.

Goalkeeper and Spain captain Iker Casillas, who played for Real in that Glasgow final and made a number of vital saves, picked out Darren Fletcher as a player who could cause Spain problems on Tuesday.

"Fletcher controls the centre of the pitch very well," Casillas said of the tough-tackling Manchester United man.