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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov, 14, 2007

McLeish yet to decide on formation for Italy

Scotland manager Alex McLeish is still undecided about his tactics for Saturday's crunch Euro 2008 qualifier against Italy.

McLeish's side will go in search of the victory which would secure qualification for next summer's finals, and various formation options are open to the national team boss.

He told talkSPORT: 'I'm kind of swerving between one or two formations, but by and large I don't think you'll see any surprises come the line-up on Saturday at five o'clock.'

McLeish could be toying with where to use James McFadden, either alongside Kenny Miller or in a deeper role. If he opts for just one striker, McLeish may start with McFadden or Miller as substitute.

Celtic's Paul Hartley could also be used in a sitting midfield role, protecting the back four as he did to good effect against France in Paris, however he could also feature on the right or may have to settle for a place on the bench.

The good news for McLeish is that his entire squad of 25 players is fit, affording him every option he would want.

Scotland beat Ukraine 3-1 at Hampden in their last match at the national stadium, going 2-0 up after 10 minutes, and McLeish now wants his players to approach the Italy game positively.

'We'll try to concentrate on the things that have served us really well at Hampden in the previous games,' McLeish explained.

'And if we play to those kinds of standards - the standards of the Ukraine game - then the Italians will be in for one of the hardest games of their careers.'

McLeish emphasised that, whatever the result on Saturday, Scotland can take pride in their achievements during this campaign.

They stand second in Group B, sandwiched by group leaders France and the third-placed Italians.

Scotland and France each have one game remaining - France's match coming up next Wednesday in Ukraine - while Italy have two to play.

After facing Scotland, Roberto Donadoni's side take on the Faroe Islands next Wednesday, with victory in that game considered a formality.

Scotland will be eliminated if they lose to the Italians, but a draw keeps them in with a chance.

McLeish added: 'We know if we get a point, then France have to get a point in Ukraine.

'If we win then we've qualified, so it's down to those two equations for us.

'If we lose then we're out and that can happen in professional sport and I think everybody has to be aware of that, and recognise the job these lads have done.

'If we don't do it, we'll only have failed to qualify, but we haven't failed because it's been a magnificent effort.

'This young team can play together for the next five, six, seven years.'

McLeish also admitted that Celtic's Champions League victory over AC Milan at Parkhead last month gives Scotland hope for their clash with the World Cup winners.

'Celtic have beaten the European champions so why can't Scotland beat the world champions?' he asked.

'Celtic beat them in Glasgow - why can't we beat the world champions in Glasgow?

'There's no doubt we can do this. I'm not saying we will, but there's no doubt we can do it.'

McLeish confirmed the question of whether to name two strikers in his line-up is high on his agenda.

He told uefa.com: 'I wouldn't want to leave myself too open against Italy but if you look at the games we've played at Hampden, I've played two strikers and we've been very bold,' he said.

He started with both Miller and McFadden against Georgia in Tbilisi last month, a change of tactic from the familiar 4-5-1 formation Scotland have used away from home.

Scotland lost the match 2-0 and that result has affected McLeish's thinking for the clash with Italy.

He said: 'Looking back to the Georgia game one of the things that rankles with me a wee bit is maybe not going with the one striker in that game, so it's something we will need to consider.'

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