Scotland set to stun Europe

Scotland look to take their place at Euro 2008 at the expense of Italy.

    Scotland celebrate their win in France, now the world champions await [GALLO/GETTY]

    Scotland are hoping to spring the surprise of the Euro 2008 qualifying groups when they look to reach the finals by defeating world champions Italy at Hampden Park to qualify in their place.

    The Scots have stunned even their most passionate fans after it was expected that France and Italy would face little competition in progressing.

    "It's not the best group that Scotland have ever had, but they are playing as a unit," said Graham Souness, who played 77 games for Scotland.

    "They are together and both the mangers that have had this group have got the most from the players, and that's all a manager can do.

    "They've been clever with their tactics, been well organized a ridden their luck at times and that's why they are in the situation they are in."

    Scotland has won eight of its 11 matches, including two celebrated victories over France under both Walter Smith and Alex McLeish.

    The revival survived Smith's potentially destabilising exit to Rangers in January.

    Graeme Souness in his Scotland playing days
    "Tactically they are aware, they are doing all the right things during the game and I hope they do the same on Saturday," Souness said.

    "That will be a hard, hard ask for them."

    A sixth straight home win would send Scotland to its first major tournament in a decade, and its third European finals.

    A draw would leave the team relying on Ukraine upsetting France on Wednesday.

    Souness, a former manager at Rangers and Liverpool, said the Scots have "a fighting chance" to decide matters on their own.

    "The Italians on the domestic scene don't step out and chase games, so they will be going to Hampden, sitting in, waiting for Scotland to step out and hopefully punish them," he said.

    "For Scotland's part, they have to play a very, very clever game. I would sit tight, I wouldn't step out and instead try to get something from a set piece."

    Scotland's recent football successes haven't been limited to the national team.

    Both Rangers and Celtic are in strong positions for progressing into the Champions League knockout phase.

    "There's a bit of a glow going on at this time," said Souness, who has said he will don a jersey and scarf in the stands with his son.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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