Wales v Scotland: Can the Scots find the form to slay the Dragons?
It’s certainly been a rollercoaster few years for our national squad, but no match-up can be surrounded by as much uncertainty as Scotland versus Wales.
With Friday’s World Cup Qualifier in Cardiff just a few days away, it begs the question; after such a poor start, can Scotland turn around their dismal form and put their campaign back on track?
Historically, in the last 12 meetings, each team has won five and drawn twice, and the current Fifa World Ranking puts Scotland at 56th place, just a single spot above Wales. It simply couldn’t be closer.
Perhaps the Tartan Army’s best hope lies in a few familiar faces returning to the Scotland squad after notable absences. The comeback of Steven Fletcher is easily the most dramatic development for some time - the addition of the in-form Sunderland striker gave Scots fans cause for celebration after he buried the hatchet with Scotland boss Craig Levein and announced that he wants to play for his country again. The fact that the pair both agreed to set their differences aside and put their country first can surely only be a good thing.
Meanwhile a further boost arrived with the return to good health of Darren Fletcher, after the Manchester United star recovered from a career-threatening bowel disorder. The midfielder recently made his return to first-team football and Levein had the blessing of Sir Alex Ferguson in calling him up for international duties. Whether he ends up in the final squad remains to be seen.
However, the apparent injury of Robert Snodgrass could also mean another surprise return is thrown into the mix. It has been reported today that Celtic midfielder Kris Commons could pull on a Scotland shirt for the first time since 2011’s friendly with Brazil in London.
The possible inclusion of the 29-year-old, whose form for the Hoops has been impressive of late, could go some way to answering Levein’s critics, who have often questioned the exclusion of several high-profile stars in the Scotland squad.
However, it goes without saying that any hope to take three points away from Wales will lie on Scotland’s ability to contain Gareth Bale. The former BBC Cymru Sports Personality of the Year has been a formidable weapon for both his country and Tottenham Hotspur and several Scotland stars have noted that the key to taking control of the game is to ensure Bale doesn’t get his way.
With the starting line-ups yet to be named, whatever developments occur over the next few days could prove crucial. After a disappointing start to the World Cup qualifying campaign, Scottish fans could well be pinning their hopes on a few changes in the squad to raise their game against Wales and steel themselves ahead of next week’s clash with Belgium.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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