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Super_Scotlandfan

Play Off Opponent Profiles

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Thought it would be useful to profile our opponents and potential opponents in the play offs.

Israel

Finished 5th out of 6th in their qualification group. Won only one away game against Latvia and lost their last qualification game against Macedonia. Overall a weaker campaign than us and obviously finished below us in the Nations League. 

We should be fairly big favourites in this game. I've seen lots of references to us only beating them in a 3-2 nail biter last year - I didn't see it that way. We created much more chances than them and dominated in parts. AND this is when McLeish was in charge, hopefully most have seen improvement particularly in the last two games since then.

They're likely to line up with mostly Israel based players plus Beram Kayal, Elhamed at Celtic, plus a 32 year old striker, Zahavi, who plays in China and their star player Dabbur who hasn't managed to play for Seville this season. 

Norway

This is a much tougher opponent, especially away from home. Lost just once in qualification in a group that contained Spain and Sweden. They haven't lost a home game since they were beaten by Germany in 2016. Would be a big ask for us to beat them in Norway! Although a draw and pens would do it...

Not sure if too many know of their squad but they've got lots of younger, promising players coming through. 

Main threat is probably former wonderboy Martin Odegaard who's still only 20. Plays for Real Sociedad in a Kevin De Bruyne type role - really impressed last year in the Dutch league and has done well so far in La Liga. 

Their other wonderboy is Erling Haaland who's only 19. Has an insane goalscoring record in Norway and Austria and has scored 7 in the champions league this season. Been talked about for an  £80M move to the world's biggest teams already.

They've also got Josh King at Bournemouth, Ajer and Elyounoussi at Celtic and another youngster Berge at Genk in centre midfield. 

For me, they're favourites against Serbia at home. 

I actually think we match up to them pretty well though, we'd love a Haaland as a striker and Ajer at centre back but guys like Robertson, Tierney, McGinn, McTominay, Fraser and Christie would make their team. We'd need to dominate midfield, where we're stronger and take pressure off our centre backs. It will be tough but I still feel this is a winnable game for us. 

Serbia

Had a tough group to qualify from, Ukraine finished top and Portugal second. Their competitive home record is pretty good, losing only to Portugal since 2014. They weren't entirely convincing in this campaign, struggling to beat Luxembourg and losing 5-0 away to Ukraine. 

They're probably a team that have stronger individuals than their performances or results show. Although I think an away match against them will be tougher than Norway so hopefully they put them out.

Their stars are probably Tadic at Ajax, Milinkovic-Savic at Lazio and Mitrovic at Fulham (who obviously could play at a higher level). They've also got defenders at Roma, Napoli and Fiorentina and the striker Jovic at Real Madrid. A really strong balanced squad that should be qualifying for tournaments. 

We should take heart from the fact they don't seem to have put performances in despite their squad. And that they'll probably lose away to Norway in the semi. 

Overall I think we've got the squad to beat all 3 teams and this is easily the best chance for us to qualify for a tournament since 1998. Hopefully a strong performance at Hampden can give us confidence to get into a final that'll probably be around 30/70 against us. 

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Israel are beatable. We have enough to beat them but still tricky. But im confident we will beat them. The final is a bit of a nightmare. Away to serbia sounds horrendous there front line alone has some talent. Great players throughout the squad. Norway have a good squad aswell. Both would be hard games but we have some good players ourselves. Get a good system and we can be hard to beat.

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3 minutes ago, GraemeTA said:

Israel are beatable. We have enough to beat them but still tricky. But im confident we will beat them. The final is a bit of a nightmare. Away to serbia sounds horrendous there front line alone has some talent. Great players throughout the squad. Norway have a good squad aswell. Both would be hard games but we have some good players ourselves. Get a good system and we can be hard to beat.

I‘m hoping we beat Israel comfortably and Norway and Serbia go to penalties with their best players getting sent off. 

An outbreak of explosive diarrhoea in the winning team the night before the final would also be nice.

Is that too much to ask for? 

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2 minutes ago, Texas Pete said:

I‘m hoping we beat Israel comfortably and Norway and Serbia go to penalties with their best players getting sent off. 

An outbreak of explosive diarrhoea in the winning team the night before the final would also be nice.

Is that too much to ask for? 

Not at all....everything crossed 

Just the kinda luck we are looking for

Edited by GraemeTA

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Scotland to beat Israel 3-0,  Norway to beat Serbia on penalties and 1-0 win in Oslo for us courtesy of a Leigh Griffiths free kick. Easy peasy 

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2 minutes ago, Rohan said:

Scotland to beat Israel 3-0,  Norway to beat Serbia on penalties and 1-0 win in Oslo for us courtesy of a Leigh Griffiths free kick. Easy peasy 

I’d buy that for a dollar. 

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Oslo away was arguably Kenny Miller's best performance for Scotland, game was in early days of Walter Smith's spell.

He also had a terrific game v Italy in I think the next qualifier. In that time he was scoring goals rather than just running around as happened in the later part of his international career.

Less said about 2009 game the better.

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8 hours ago, Tartan Chris said:

Oslo away was arguably Kenny Miller's best performance for Scotland, game was in early days of Walter Smith's spell.

He also had a terrific game v Italy in I think the next qualifier. In that time he was scoring goals rather than just running around as happened in the later part of his international career.

Italy game was the Saturday before it. But yeah we almost turned that group around after a dreadful start.

 

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12 hours ago, Super_Scotlandfan said:

Thought it would be useful to profile our opponents and potential opponents in the play offs.

Israel

Finished 5th out of 6th in their qualification group. Won only one away game against Latvia and lost their last qualification game against Macedonia. Overall a weaker campaign than us and obviously finished below us in the Nations League. 

We should be fairly big favourites in this game. I've seen lots of references to us only beating them in a 3-2 nail biter last year - I didn't see it that way. We created much more chances than them and dominated in parts. AND this is when McLeish was in charge, hopefully most have seen improvement particularly in the last two games since then.

They're likely to line up with mostly Israel based players plus Beram Kayal, Elhamed at Celtic, plus a 32 year old striker, Zahavi, who plays in China and their star player Dabbur who hasn't managed to play for Seville this season. 

Norway

This is a much tougher opponent, especially away from home. Lost just once in qualification in a group that contained Spain and Sweden. They haven't lost a home game since they were beaten by Germany in 2016. Would be a big ask for us to beat them in Norway! Although a draw and pens would do it...

Not sure if too many know of their squad but they've got lots of younger, promising players coming through. 

Main threat is probably former wonderboy Martin Odegaard who's still only 20. Plays for Real Sociedad in a Kevin De Bruyne type role - really impressed last year in the Dutch league and has done well so far in La Liga. 

Their other wonderboy is Erling Haaland who's only 19. Has an insane goalscoring record in Norway and Austria and has scored 7 in the champions league this season. Been talked about for an  £80M move to the world's biggest teams already.

They've also got Josh King at Bournemouth, Ajer and Elyounoussi at Celtic and another youngster Berge at Genk in centre midfield. 

For me, they're favourites against Serbia at home. 

I actually think we match up to them pretty well though, we'd love a Haaland as a striker and Ajer at centre back but guys like Robertson, Tierney, McGinn, McTominay, Fraser and Christie would make their team. We'd need to dominate midfield, where we're stronger and take pressure off our centre backs. It will be tough but I still feel this is a winnable game for us. 

Serbia

Had a tough group to qualify from, Ukraine finished top and Portugal second. Their competitive home record is pretty good, losing only to Portugal since 2014. They weren't entirely convincing in this campaign, struggling to beat Luxembourg and losing 5-0 away to Ukraine. 

They're probably a team that have stronger individuals than their performances or results show. Although I think an away match against them will be tougher than Norway so hopefully they put them out.

Their stars are probably Tadic at Ajax, Milinkovic-Savic at Lazio and Mitrovic at Fulham (who obviously could play at a higher level). They've also got defenders at Roma, Napoli and Fiorentina and the striker Jovic at Real Madrid. A really strong balanced squad that should be qualifying for tournaments. 

We should take heart from the fact they don't seem to have put performances in despite their squad. And that they'll probably lose away to Norway in the semi. 

Overall I think we've got the squad to beat all 3 teams and this is easily the best chance for us to qualify for a tournament since 1998. Hopefully a strong performance at Hampden can give us confidence to get into a final that'll probably be around 30/70 against us. 

Great post. 

Good point about some of our lads making Norway's team. We should be sensibly cautious about their wonderkids. But Johansen(ex-celt), Ajer, and Elyanoussi will be well known to the team, and we can exploit that.

Think about them doing a profile on us. I think our team looks much more daunting on paper than any of those 3: Players at  Liverpool, Man U, Arsenal, Alaves, and EPL standouts(Fraser and McGinn), *fingers crossed* some Scots playing in the latter stages of the Europa at Celtic and Rangers as well. 

I think we are more menacing than we give ourselves credit for. None of those teams will want to play us

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I'm trying so hard to tell myself that it's a one-off cup match and anything can happen, but I just can't convince myself that we can win the playoff final away from home against either Norway or Serbia. I sincerely hope I'm wrong! 

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2 hours ago, Tartan blood said:

Great post. 

Good point about some of our lads making Norway's team. We should be sensibly cautious about their wonderkids. But Johansen(ex-celt), Ajer, and Elyanoussi will be well known to the team, and we can exploit that.

Think about them doing a profile on us. I think our team looks much more daunting on paper than any of those 3: Players at  Liverpool, Man U, Arsenal, Alaves, and EPL standouts(Fraser and McGinn), *fingers crossed* some Scots playing in the latter stages of the Europa at Celtic and Rangers as well. 

I think we are more menacing than we give ourselves credit for. None of those teams will want to play us

Daunting on paper and Scotland? 😂😂 fuck me. 2 wins against mediocre teams and some forget Russia pumped us. Both Norway and Serbia should be looking at us at home as a great chance to qualify.

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42 minutes ago, ParisInAKilt said:

Daunting on paper and Scotland? 😂😂 fuck me. 2 wins against mediocre teams and some forget Russia pumped us. Both Norway and Serbia should be looking at us at home as a great chance to qualify.

My point had nothing to do with our form, it was about our players. As the original poster mentioned,  Serbia have a stronger squad than their form suggests. I would say Serbia would say the same thing about us. 

Of course they will be looking to exploit our weaknesses in defence, and, if you are right, they will underestimate us, which may work to our advantage.

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4 hours ago, Tartan blood said:

Great post. 

Good point about some of our lads making Norway's team. We should be sensibly cautious about their wonderkids. But Johansen(ex-celt), Ajer, and Elyanoussi will be well known to the team, and we can exploit that.

Think about them doing a profile on us. I think our team looks much more daunting on paper than any of those 3: Players at  Liverpool, Man U, Arsenal, Alaves, and EPL standouts(Fraser and McGinn), *fingers crossed* some Scots playing in the latter stages of the Europa at Celtic and Rangers as well. 

I think we are more menacing than we give ourselves credit for. None of those teams will want to play us

Yeah, I was thinking this while writing post. On paper our team looks good, but with obvious weaknesses at centre back and centre forward. 

For me our defence can only improve, McKenna should get better with more game time after injury and if not Cooper steps in. 

Our striker will be Naismith who'll also me much more match sharp by March and be putting away at least one more of the chances he got on Tuesday. Griffiths or Fletcher might also come back...and Burke or McBurnie might surprise. So maybe not as weak as we think. 

Can Norway or Serbia improve much more by March? I'm not so sure. 

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2 hours ago, Tartan blood said:

My point had nothing to do with our form, it was about our players. As the original poster mentioned,  Serbia have a stronger squad than their form suggests. I would say Serbia would say the same thing about us. 

Of course they will be looking to exploit our weaknesses in defence, and, if you are right, they will underestimate us, which may work to our advantage.

Is it form when it’s been about a decade since we had a decent team? ... 

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48 minutes ago, Super_Scotlandfan said:

Yeah, I was thinking this while writing post. On paper our team looks good, but with obvious weaknesses at centre back and centre forward. 

For me our defence can only improve, McKenna should get better with more game time after injury and if not Cooper steps in. 

Our striker will be Naismith who'll also me much more match sharp by March and be putting away at least one more of the chances he got on Tuesday. Griffiths or Fletcher might also come back...and Burke or McBurnie might surprise. So maybe not as weak as we think. 

Can Norway or Serbia improve much more by March? I'm not so sure. 

Couldn't agree more. I think being unlucky with injuries is the only way we will get significantly weaker between now and the playoffs.

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7 minutes ago, ParisInAKilt said:

Is it form when it’s been about a decade since we had a decent team? ... 

Again, i wasn't talking about form. But if you want to talk about it, I'd say looking at individual player's form is the best we've had in a decade. I can't remember a time where we had so many players excelling in the EPL and at Celtic. 

3 wins for Scotland against mediocre teams wouldn't scare anyone, but some of our players could be absolutely flying at club level if they continue on their trajectory.

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Just now, Tartan blood said:

Again, i wasn't talking about form. But if you want to talk about it, I'd say looking at individual player's form is the best we've had in a decade. I can't remember a time where we had so many players excelling in the EPL and at Celtic. 

3 wins for Scotland against mediocre teams wouldn't scare anyone, but some of our players could be absolutely flying at club level if they continue on their trajectory.

Who’s excelling in the EPL?

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Just now, Tartan blood said:

Do I really have to answer that? Most of our regulars have received plaudits this year

Robertson obviously, McGinn aye, Mctominay at a push. Fraser has been below average, McBurnie is rotten, Tierney hasn’t got going and cant be arsed probably. 
 

I wish I shared your optimism but we’re a tier 3 side at best, have a handful of players doing good in the overrated EPL and for Celtic isn’t much to get excited about after that campaign and the last half a dozen.  

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