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Preview: Austria vs. Scotland - prediction, team news, lineups
07/09/2021 14:04:15

Separated by just a point in Group F of European World Cup 2022 Qualifying, both Austria and Scotland will be seeking a vital victory on Tuesday (7:45PM, 7 Sept), when they meet in Vienna.

While the Tartan Army edged past Moldova at Hampden Park at the weekend, the hosts found themselves on the wrong end of a hiding by the two nations' main playoff rivals, Israel.

Match preview

Scotland immediately bounced back from their midweek defeat to Denmark with a close-fought victory over Group F minnows Moldova on Saturday, as their quest for a return to the global stage after two decades away continued.

Conceding twice to the Danes within the first 15 minutes of this latest international triple-header had set Steve Clarke's weakened squad back on their heels, and they were unable to respond - resulting in their first defeat of the qualifying process. However, the weekend's win lifts them up to third in the standings and into contention to finish behind runaway group leaders Denmark.

Having managed only two wins from their last seven outings, though, a tricky trip to the Austrian capital will test Scotland's capabilities to the full, after scraping through a tougher test than they may have expected against the Moldovans by virtue of a well worked Lyndon Dykes goal.

That success puts the Tartan Army on seven points so far - one clear of Austria, but trailing Israel by two - as they only drew their first two fixtures last March.

After picking up maximum points at Hampden against a side ranked 126 places below them in the world rankings - ensuring they retain an unbeaten record across their last nine home World Cup qualifiers - Scotland are now faced with a tougher task on Tuesday evening.

The last time Scotland reached a World Cup, in 1998, they won seven times on the road to the finals in France, so Clarke will be aware of the need to push for victory versus a reeling Austria side.

Three goals down before half-time in Haifa, head coach Franco Foda found himself with an enormous rebuilding job to do if his Austria team were to haul themselves back into contention against Israel, but even strikes from Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic either side of the break could not help turn things around.

A crushing 5-2 defeat sees Foda's men slip off the pace in the playoff race, as they now trail behind in fourth before their third qualifying game in a week.

After advancing from the group stage of Euro 2020 - the first time they had done so at any major tournament since the 1982 World Cup - they have ambitions to reach next year's main event, but - like Scotland - have not qualified since 1998.

In fact, Das Team immediately bounced back from the disappointment of exiting the Euros to eventual champions Italy with a 2-0 win over Moldova in Chisinau upon their return to competitive action - goals from both Baumgartner and Arnautovic sealing the deal.

However, Saturday's setback leaves them precariously placed and in need of maximum points against a team they were held by in Glasgow on the opening day of the campaign - a 2-2 draw, in which they were denied by John McGinn's late strike.

Team News

Scotland were without several players for last week's trip to Denmark - including John McGinn, Scott McTominay and Kevin Nisbet - but the latter returned at the weekend, as Lyndon Dykes' partner up front in a 3-5-2 formation. Though they were relatively ineffective against the Moldovan back three, Nisbet and Dykes could be paired in attack once again, but Che Adams is a likely alternative.

McGinn also featured, following 10 days in isolation with COVID-19, and is poised to start in Vienna, but captain Andy Robertson - who was awarded his 50th cap on Saturday - is a doubt having been withdrawn with a knock during the second half.

Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour - currently on loan at Norwich - appears to have cemented his place in Clarke's first-choice midfield trio with another composed performance at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Austria's captain, Julian Baumgartlinger, pulled out of the squad last week due to a recurring knee injury, while Marcel Sabitzer also misses out again due to a groin problem.

In their absence, Louis Schaub may come into the XI, featuring behind a front line including back-to-back goalscorers Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic, plus Augsburg striker Michael Gregoritsch.

Franco Foda is sure to make further changes, given his team's capitulation in Israel, so Philipp Lienhart is an option to replace regular centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic, who was substituted at half-time on Saturday.

Austria possible starting lineup:

Bachmann; Lainer, Lienhart, Hinteregger, Ulmer; Alaba, Grillitsch, Laimer; Baumgartner, Gregoritsch, Arnautovic

Scotland possible starting lineup:

Gordon; Hendry, Hanley, Tierney; Patterson, McGregor, Gilmour, McGinn, Robertson; Dykes, Adams

We say: Austria 2-1 Scotland

Never the most prolific of scorers, Scotland have looked short of ideas and a some composure during their first two games of this international period, so could be out-scored by an Austria side who - despite injuries - have several credible options in attack.

The home side are therefore set to go clear of their counterparts in the race for a top-two place, leaving the Scots in danger of falling behind if Israel also win again.

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