Scotland will face Ukraine in Hampden on Wednesday for the second time in less than four months.
The UEFA Nations League game is one of two meetings between the sides over the next seven days.
Here are some of the talking points before the game.
Chance to make amends
Scotland fell well short of recent performance levels when they faced Ukraine at Hampden in the semi-final of the World Cup play-offs in June. The home side were dominated in the first half and went down 2-0 shortly after halftime and again took time to fight back before finally going down 3-1. Most of the Ukrainian players hadn’t played a competitive game in months, but they looked sharper than a Scottish side struggling to get going after a long season. Ukraine looked a classy outfit this summer, but Scotland will surely look better this time around.
Kieran Tierney returns
The Arsenal defender’s absence following knee surgery was keenly felt in June, when Scotland also suffered a 3-0 Nations League defeat in Dublin. Steve Clarke has designed his line-up to fit Tierney and fellow left-back Andy Robertson on the same team and the three-at-back system doesn’t work as well when the former Celtic hero is out. With Robertson injured, Clarke has the option of putting Tierney in the back as a straight trade or inserting him into the back line. Greg Taylor and left-footed right-back Aaron Hickey are options at the back. The Scottish manager could potentially opt for a back-four as Scotland improved in the play-offs when he put an extra man in midfield.
Everything to play in the table
Scotland’s setback in Dublin might not turn out to be as damaging as it looked at the time. The Republic of Ireland had already lost in Armenia and Scotland have beaten the group’s dark horses twice now. Stephen Kenny’s men also did Scotland a favor by scoring a point against Ukraine in Poland, leaving the Scots just one point clear of the summit. Defeat would likely spell the end of Scotland’s realistic hopes in the lead, but any other result would leave the group wide open.
The tributes continue
Following discussions with UEFA, we can confirm that there will be one minute of applause before our match against Ukraine, in memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. pic.twitter.com/CGEY30xwut— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) September 20, 2022
The Scottish Football Association received a request from UEFA to hold a one-minute pre-match applause for the Queen, who was the organization’s patron. The decision has caused an element of surprise and dissent from some supporters on social media, with some citing the fact that Scottish football has had a weekend of postponements and another of pre-match tributes, some of which have been undermined, and also because Ukraine remains in the midst of a war with Russia that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people. Overnight’s reaction will be under scrutiny following events elsewhere.