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5 talking points ahead of Scotland’s World Cup qualifier against Israel

Scotland v Austria – FIFA 2022 World Cup – Qualifying – Group F – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Scotland face Israel in their second World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

Steve Clarke’s side travelled to the Middle East on the back of a 2-2 home draw with Austria.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key talking points ahead of the game.

Familiar foes

Scotland celebrate

Scotland celebrate a shootout win over Israel (Andrew Milligan/PA)

This is the fourth meeting between the two teams this season and the sixth in the past 30 months. Scotland have lost twice in Israel during that run, the latest a narrow 1-0 defeat in November. Both games at Hampden in the autumn ended in draws with Scotland emerging victorious on penalties in the Euro 2020 play-offs. Expect another tight encounter between two teams who know each other so well.

McGinn role

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Aston Villa’s John McGinn started off in one of the two deeper midfield roles on Thursday, where he has recently been playing for his club, but showed his goal threat when he was moved forward later in the game. His sublime overhead kick earned Scotland a point and took his international tally to eight goals. Clarke has the likes of Callum McGregor and Kenny McLean available if he wants to push McGinn further forward from the start.

Open doors

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Some players will be playing in front of their first crowd for a year with 5,000 supporters set to be present at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. With Israel leading the way in terms of Covid-19 vaccination numbers, a partial crowd will cheer on the hosts.

Striking dilemma

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Lyndon Dykes took well to international football in the autumn but he had a four-month goal drought with QPR before netting against Reading last weekend. The former Livingston forward looked below par against Austria, struggling to retain the ball and lacking his usual spring. Che Adams could get a bigger chance after coming on for his debut midway through the half, while Oli McBurnie and the uncapped Kevin Nisbet are options.

Looking for the win

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Both sides are looking for their first victories of the group after Israel lost 2-0 at home to top seeds Denmark on Thursday. Clarke was keen to play down suggestions Scotland were already under pressure to collect their first win but anything less would leave them playing catch-up with Denmark already.