Spain will be eager to close the gap to Scotland at the top of Group A when the two teams clash at Estadio de la Cartuja on Thursday.

The international break is back, with UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers resuming in Europe this week. Group A will feature the top two teams in action, as Spain and Scotland lock horns at Estadio de la Cartuja, with the visitors six points ahead of La Roja.

The UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers have heralded the start of the Luis de la Fuente era in Spanish football after Luis Enrique departed following the debacle at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The 62-year-old is a well-travelled manager and coached his nation at different levels. And his record thus far is solid, managing four wins in six outings thus far.

On the other hand, Scotland’s stock has skyrocketed in 2023, particularly in the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers. The Tartan Army have won all five games thus far, even beating Spain to rise to the top of the Group A standings. But they lost 3-1 to England in their most recent outing, going down in a special friendly clash at Hampden Park.

The reverse fixture ended in a 2-0 win for Scotland over Spain, with Scott McTominay scoring a match-winning brace. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics


Luis de la Fuente has not made significant changes to the squad he picked for September’s round of international fixtures. While Cesar Azpilicueta, Jose Gaya, and Alex Baena did not find a place in the group, Lamine Yamal has pulled his name from the unit due to a leg injury.

In addition, Yeremi Pino has left the Spain camp to return to Villarreal after sustaining a hamstring injury this past weekend. Ansu Fati and the in-form Bryan Zaragoza have replaced the duo in the squad. But despite the shuffles, de la Fuente has most of his preferred players in his group.

Unai Simon should take his place between the sticks, with Spain lining up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of him. The backline should feature Robin Le Normand and Aymeric Laporte as the central defensive unit, with Dani Carvajal and Alejandro Balde being the full-backs.

As for the midfield department, a well-rested Rodri is an automatic pick. The 27-year-old will line up alongside Mikel Merino and Gavi in the middle of the park. Finally, Alvaro Morata will spearhead the attack, with Ferran Torres and Nico Williams accompanying him in the offensive third.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Simon; Carvajal, Le Normand, Laporte, Balde; Merino, Rodri, Gavi; Torres, Morata, Nico Williams


Like his counterpart in the Spain dugout, Steve Clarke has made a few but minimal changes to his squad for the latest international break. Kieran Tierney is the most notable absentee after picking up a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Ryan Jack and Kevin Nisbet have pulled out from the squad due to their respective fitness issues. Clarke has not called up any players to replace the duo in the Scotland squad.

Angus Gunn will likely feature between the sticks, with Scotland lining up in a 3-4-2-1 formation in front of him. Meanwhile, the defensive unit will likely consist of Ryan Porteous, Jack Hendry, and Liam Cooper. The trio will aim to remain compact to cut off the passing lanes and frustrate the home side’s attackers.

As for the midfield unit, Billy Gilmour and Callum McGregor will forge the double pivot. The duo will aim to keep things tight in the middle of the park while looking to initiate quick counter-attacks.

The two full-backs — Aaron Hickey and Andrew Robertson — will provide width in the final third, considering the two attacking midfielders will remain compact. Scott McTominay and John McGinn will take up advanced positions, with Che Adams spearheading the attack against Spain.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Gunn; Porteous, Hendry, Cooper; Hickey, Gilmour, McGregor, Robertson; McTominay, McGinn; Adams

Key Stats

  • Scotland have won their last 11 group stage matches in qualifying for major tournaments, the longest ongoing run of any European nation. They have not won six group-stage games in a European Championship qualifying campaign since their Euro 2008 push (8).
  • Spain have won their last 24 home European Championship qualifiers, a run that stretches back to September 2003. It is the longest ever home winning run in Euro qualifying history. The last side to beat them on home soil were Greece in June 2003, who later won the following European Championship tournament in 2004.
  • Scotland have won 15 of their last 18 competitive international matches (D1 L2), including their last five in a row, all in Euro 2024 qualifiers. Since September 2021, only Portugal (17), the Netherlands (16), and France (16) have won more competitive matches among European nations.
  • In qualifying for major tournaments (World Cup/Euros), Spain have only lost home and away against a side in the group stages once before, losing twice to France in Euro 1992 qualifying.
  • Spain have only lost one of their eight home matches against Scotland in all competitions (W4 D3), losing 6-2 against them in a friendly in June 1963. Thursday will be their first meeting with Scotland on home soil since October 2011, a 3-1 win in a European Championship qualifier.
  • Excluding own goals, only Portugal (11) have had more different scorers in qualifying for Euro 2024 than Spain (9), with Alvaro Morata and Joselu joint top scorers for La Roja with three goals each.

Player to Watch

Nico Williams

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Scott McTominay was one of the contenders for this section after making a tremendous impact in the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers thus far. But Nico Williams gets the nod after kicking off his career on the international stage strongly.

The Athletic Club winger has become one of the most sought-after players in the transfer market. But he will be focused on the job at hand on the international stage, with Spain looking to eventually return to the top of Group A. And a convincing showing from Williams will go a long way in plugging the gap to Scotland.


Spain 2-1 Scotland

The 3-1 defeat to England might have shown signs that the sheen might be wearing off Scotland’s excellent run in 2023. While the visitors still have a superb record in recent competitive fixtures, they might have a tall order against Spain this week at Estadio de la Cartuja.

Luis de la Fuente suffered the 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture in only his second game in charge of Spain. But his charges have hit back well since then, with La Roja coming into Thursday’s game in good form. They should thus have the edge and manage a narrow 2-1 win to go within three points of the Group A leaders. So, if you want to get closer to the game and in on the act, outlets like Vulkan Bet, bet365, and others will come to your aid.

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