Israel faces Scotland for top spot

Israel faces Scotland this evening at 9:45 p.m. in UEFA Nations League play with the chance to finish first in Group 1 of League C, get a Pot Three place in the 2020 European Championship qualifying draw, and a playoff spot should they fail to reach the finals directly.

A win or a draw at Hampden Park will give the blue-and-white the opportunity to advance to the Euros  should they not qualify through the standard qualification tournament which begins in early 2019.

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After defeating Guatemala 7:0 in a friendly on Thursday at the Netanya Stadium, Israel’s head coach Andi Herzog and his squad seem ready for Scotland. However, the Austrian warned that Tuesday night’s battle for first place is a totally different story while reflecting on the win.

“I believe that we gave it our all and that we did some good things, overall this was a good result but Scotland will be something totally different,” Herzog said. Monas Dabbur, who plays his club football at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria and scored a brace against Guatemala, also looked ahead to Scotland.

“We will do the maximum against Scotland and we’re going there to bring back the result we need,” he said.

Israel’s technical director Willi Ruttensteiner was very content and satisfied with his side’s performance: “This is very important before the match versus Scotland and I’m proud of the team. The preparations for Scotland have been very good and I’m very satisfied, but the contest in Glasgow will be difficult as it’s always a challenge to play away. It will be a fantastic accomplishment if we can win or take a point, but we will need to improve by 25-30% to take a point.”

Scotland defeated Albania 4:0 on Saturday night and are now level on points with Israel with each sporting six in Group 1 of League C, however, the blue-and-white hold the tiebreaker if they draw in the final group match due to their win over Scotland in Haifa last month.

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The hosts will be without many of their starters due to injury, but Captain Andrew Robertson from Liverpool will be available as will Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser and James Forrest of Celtic, who scored a brace in Albania. Forrest was very upbeat about their chances when they play Israel at home: “I’m absolutely buzzing after scoring two goals and I can take a lot of confidence into Tuesday.”

Scotland coach Alex McLeish also looked ahead to Tuesday night’s clash and what the keys will be for his National Team.

“We have to stop the dangerous Monas Dabbur who has looked terrific in the Europa League and doesn’t stop to score,” McLeish said.
Israel’s starting lineup will most probably be the same as the one which opened against Guatemala and will include keeper Ariel Harush, Eli Dasa, Sheran Yeini, Omri Ben-Harush, Loai Taha, Taleb Tawhatcha, Bibras Natcho, Beram Kayal, Dor Peretz, Eran Zahavi and Monas Dabbur.

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