Four things you need to know about Scotland’s opponents Slovenia

Slovenia stand in the way of Scotland and second place. Picture: JURE MAKOVEC/AFP/Getty Images
Slovenia stand in the way of Scotland and second place. Picture: JURE MAKOVEC/AFP/Getty Images
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Scotland will look to seal a World Cup play-off spot when they take on Slovenia on Sunday.

Here, we take a look at the team standing in the way of Gordon Strachan and his side.

FORM

Slovenia’s hopes of reaching the play-offs are all but over after Thursday’s narrow defeat to England. Three points adrift of Scotland, a win would see them overtake Strachan’s team on goal difference but with rivals Slovakia a point in front and hosting Group F also-rans Malta the odds are they will end up disappointed even if they do triumph this weekend. Of their last five games, though, their only wins have come against the Maltese and fellow strugglers Lithuania.

MANAGER

Srecko Katanec is approaching the end of his second spell at the Slovenia helm, having confirmed at Wembley that he will step down after the visit of Scotland. The former Yugoslavia and Slovenia international first took charge in 1998 and proved an unparalleled success, leading his country to Euro 2000 - their first major tournament - and the World Cup two years later. A short-lived stint at Greek giants Olympiacos followed, before a three-year spell as Macedonia manager and two years with the UAE. Katanec was reappointed Slovenia manager in January 2013.

TACTICS

Slovenia have already proved they can be awkward customers during this qualifying campaign. It took yet another Scotland late show for Strachan’s team to break them down when they met at Hampden back in March, with Chris Martin’s 88th-minute winner proving the difference. England were also held to a goalless draw when they visited Ljubljana last year and required a similarly late goal from Harry Kane to grab a 1-0 victory earlier this week. With a win required to keep their faint hopes alive they may, though, dispense with their cautious approach.

PLAYERS

Slovenia suffered further blows at Wembley when Chievo midfielder Valter Birsa and Nantes midfielder Rene Krhin, formerly of Inter Milan, picked up bookings that rule them out against Scotland. Kevin Kampl is also not involved despite being fit. The RB Leipzig player has a tense relationship with those at the top of his country’s football association. There are some notable players who are likely to face the Scots, including Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak. FC Ufa’s sturdy defender Bojan Jokic and Atalanta attacker Josip Ilicic pose potential threats.