Alex McLeish makes Scotland’s ‘dreaded’ decision ahead of EM double-header

Steve Clarke’s side head into the doubles leg of EURO qualifiers, with Norway and Georgia proudly atop Group A after back-to-back home wins in March.

A routine 3-0 win over Cyprus was followed by a stunning success against Spain as Scott McTominay scored twice in an unforgettable evening for the Tartan Army.

Another six points from that international squad would put Scotland on course to secure a place at next summer’s finals in Germany.

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And former Hampden manager McLeish insists opposing managers and players have had to take notice of the progress Clarke’s side have made of late.

“I think we’re a team to fear now, especially after beating Spain,” said McLeish. “I think the opposition from any country would say: ‘Damn, they must be a team if they beat Spain’.”

Herald Scotland: Alex McLeish

“With this result we have grown in stature. There is a good group of players from the English Premier League – the best, strongest and richest league in the world.”

“So if you play at this level, you always improve your own level of play.”

“To compete in this league you have to have a certain level of fitness, speed, athleticism and skill. We see that with this Scottish team.”

Victory over Spain was a hero-making occasion at Hampden as Scotland put on a performance to be proud of and clinched a deserved victory over the former world champions.

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McTominay was the man of the moment, scoring early in both halves and McLeish – who convinced the midfielder to pledge allegiance to Scotland a few years ago – is proud his former national side continue to thrive.

McLeish said, “It’s fantastic to see Scott blossom and mature.”

“It was the beast from the east when I tried to get him. But it was worth every penny and mile to be overnight on those trains and hotels where you show up as a no show.”

“Listen, if I hadn’t been the manager back then, I’m sure whoever was would have done the same. I don’t think that’s a great achievement.”

“At that point we were lacking players who could raise the level. Luckily there has been a massive influx of top players since then.”

“We experimented a lot. We went to Mexico and Peru and lost both games, but it was an opportunity to meet new players and see what level they were at.”

“Some of them weren’t in the Premier League at the time. It was a summer where we also had to give respect and calm to other players after playing over 60 games – the Celtic boys and the Rangers boys. I felt like that was the case to be a bit of experimentation.

Scotland will head into Norway full of confidence as Clarke seeks a third straight Group A win to give them a lead in qualifying.

The biggest threat to that ambition will be Manchester City superstar Erling Haaland as the striker returns to action just days after winning the Champions League crown.

McLeish said: “The defense has to focus on him. That’s their job. When the ball is in the opponent’s half, they have to think: ‘Where is Haaland?’

“It’s definitely her job. But it’s not a one-man team. Not at all. Odegaard is a sensational player. And you have to respect them because they are a great team.”

“But at the same time they will think: ‘They beat Spain.’ I think that’s the little problem that opponents have in mind now when they play Scotland.”

*Alex McLeish promoted Viaplay’s exclusive live coverage of Norway v Scotland and Scotland v Georgia. Viaplay is offering a limited time special offer for Scottish football fans, only available until June 20th. Visit for more information.

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