Euro 2020 qualifying: Talking points for Wales and Scotland ahead of Sunday's fixtures

Euro 2020 will take place around Europe
Euro 2020 will take place around Europe

Wales and Scotland are all in Euro 2020 qualifying action on Sunday - we look at the talking points for each nation's fixtures.


Wales v Croatia

Ryan Giggs: A disappointing result in Croatia for the Wales boss
Ryan Giggs: A disappointing result in Croatia for the Wales boss

Manager Ryan Giggs has plenty to ponder ahead of Wales' Euro 2020 qualifying clash with Croatia in Cardiff.

It comes just 72 hours after Wales' pulsating 1-1 draw with Slovakia in Trnava, and Giggs' side seeking to close ground on the top-two. Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points surrounding the Group E fixture.

  • Stick or twist?

Wales produced one of their best performances under Giggs in Slovakia. But the quick turnaround in fixtures makes it difficult for him to simply say 'same again'.

Ethan Ampadu was 'leggy' in Trnava according to Giggs, and Jonny Williams was on the end of some heavy Slovak challenges. Both were substituted in the second half and could make way. Harry Wilson will probably be one new face as Giggs recognises that he might have to "freshen things up".

  • Ramsey's race against time

Another day, another Aaron Ramsey fitness update. The Juventus midfielder stayed at home to work on his fitness as Wales headed out to Slovakia.

Ramsey, troubled by a groin problem, trained away from the rest of the squad on Saturday and Wales will take a decision on him just hours before the Croatia game. It would be a huge boost for Wales if he were passed fit to feature in the campaign for the first time.

  • Tight race to finish line

Wales have found themselves in one of the most competitive groups in Euro 2020 qualifying. Croatia would secure qualification courtesy of a Cardiff victory, with Slovakia, Hungary and Wales probably battling it out for second spot.

Three closing wins would see Wales make it, but two could be enough - even if they lose to Croatia. Slovakia still have to go to Croatia. Wales have a game in hand on the top three and a possibly crucial head-to-head advantage over Slovakia.

  • Moore to come

Wigan's Kieffer Moore was a revelation on his first competitive appearance in Slovakia. The 6ft 5ins striker held the ball up, brought others into play and capped his performance with an excellent first-half headed goal.

Moore suffered a cut head for his troubles, but the former part-time lifeguard looks capable of making a splash for some time to come. As he admitted himself after the game, there are not many players like him in international football.

  • Masterful Modric

Wales have had good cause to rue the ability of Luka Modric down the years. Modric has often been the difference between the two sides - Croatia beating Wales 2-0, 2-1 and 2-1 in recent World Cup and European Championship qualifiers.

The midfield magician dominated the opening hour of Croatia's victory against Wales in June. But the 2018 Ballon d'or winner is now 34 and noticeably tired late on during that Osijek win for Wales to seize control. Can Wales finally curtail Modric's influence?


Euro 2020: Saturday preview & tips

Paul Higham is back with Saturday's Euro 2020 preview including best bets for Republic of Ireland's trip to Georgia & Spain's visit to Norway.

Read our preview and best bets of the latest Euro 2020 qualifying action
Read our preview and best bets of the latest Euro 2020 qualifying action


Scotland v San Marino

Scotland boss Steve Clarke (right) gives instructions to captain Andrew Robertson
Scotland boss Steve Clarke (right) gives instructions to captain Andrew Robertson

Scotland will be looking for a comprehensive victory to boost their confidence when they host minnows San Marino at Hampden Park on Sunday.

  • Things can only get better

Clarke said Scotland must ensure their 4-0 defeat in Russia was the "lowest of the low" after they conceded four times in the second half to fall four points behind third-place Cyprus in Group I.

While Scotland's main focus is now undoubtedly March's Nations League play-offs, the importance of establishing a winning mentality within the camp ahead of these games cannot be overstated. So these final three qualifiers take on extra significance, as any slip-up could be very damaging to their already-fragile confidence, but comprehensive wins and strong performances could just give Clarke's troops a timely boost.

  • Should Shankland start?

Scotland have lacked firepower in this qualifying campaign, scoring just five goals in seven games - and two of those came against San Marino, who sit bottom of the FIFA world rankings.

Searching for a solution, Clarke called up in-form Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland. He may ply his trade in the Ladbrokes Championship but the 24-year-old knows exactly where the goal is, having scored 15 times in all competitions so far this season.

Clarke has experimented with different forward-line options since taking the helm in May and after bringing Shankland off the bench against Russia, could he reward the former Ayr man with a full debut at Hampden? Celtic duo Ryan Christie and James Forrest may also be considered as Clarke looks for an attacking spark.

  • Defensive options

Scotland's defensive frailties were on show again in Russia as they conceded four goals for the second game in a row. Their injury problems have been well-documented, with Grant Hanley recently joining the likes of Liam Cooper, Kieran Tierney and John Souttar on the sidelines, but Scotland must find a way to stop leaking goals.

Sunday's visitors to Hampden Park have not scored in over two years - and the last thing a Scotland side lacking in confidence need is for that run to end this weekend. Uncapped duo Stuart Findlay and Declan Gallagher, who play for Kilmarnock and Motherwell respectively, could be given a chance to impress, while Stephen O'Donnell in is contention to return to the starting XI after missing out against Russia.

Whoever features in the back four will have Jon McLaughlin behind them as Clarke looks to give the Sunderland goalkeeper more international minutes.

  • Attendance watch

After watching their side fail to pick up a single point in the last four games and concede 13 goals in the process, Scotland fans can be forgiven for feeling a bit fed up at the moment.

That mood could be reflected by the attendance figure at Hampden, where the expectation levels will be extremely high considering their opponents have suffered 34 straight defeats.

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