Gordon Strachan: Scotland weren't good enough against Italy

The friendly in Malta's Ta' Qali Stadium that exposed a chasm in class was the first of a double header that on Saturday will see Scotland be the final warm-up act for France ahead of their hosting Euro 2016.

Scotland Manager Gordon Strachan. Picture: SNS Group

If Scotland are exposed in the fashion they were against Italy they could be vulnerable to a mauling in Metz and Strachan believes his team can improve next week.

“We have talked about why we didn’t pass the ball as well as we can,” he said. “I counted about eight or nine passes we gave away, which you would think we’d keep it or do better.

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“Some players have been away, some players rested for a while whereas the Italian lads have been on top of their game right until now.

“That’s the problem for us. A lot of our players are in the Championship, not at the top European level. And you are also playing against a Juventus back three and a goalkeeper who are fantastic. Yes, we would have liked to have done more but it’s partly down to them and partly down to us. We know that. It clears the picture. We understand exactly what you need when you go into the top games.

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“We’ve got a young squad over here and it’s been a great learning curve for them to watch it, never mind play against it. We actually as a nation [need to] think about what we are doing and I reiterate what we have been trying to do for the last year.

“It’s a learning curve, not only for us, and I hope the whole of Scottish football, everybody at youth level, understands what you need to be a top player. But I’ve got to say thanks to the lads. They could easily have made an excuse to not be here. The guys that were here did their best. But we have got a clear picture of one or two things, which was great for us to see. When we come up against that system, we know right now how I’m going to deal with it.”

The encounter was notable for bringing a first senior cap for Callum Paterson. The Hearts full-back was given the first half and did not look out of place. “Italy have a massive squad full of winners and very experienced players so it was great to get an opportunity to play against them,” he said. “I was happy enough. We did OK in the first half, didn’t concede a goal and we kept a clean sheet before I came off so I was happy to be involved and hopefully I can get a chance next week. The manager just said well done and said it had been a like-for-like swap to try to get some more experience on the pitch. I’m just thankful to get my opportunity.”