UEFA Nations League Group B2
Israel v Scotland 
Wednesday, 18 November 2020, kick-off 7.45pm (UK time)

Netanya Stadium, Netanya
Live on Sky Sports

Scotland end their November triple-header in Israel on Wednesday night, as they look for the victory that will secure top spot in UEFA Nations League Group B2. 

After securing a spot at EURO 2020 with victory against Serbia on Thursday night, Steve Clarke’s side travelled to Slovakia in a bid to extend their unbeaten run to ten matches. 

Despite dominating the encounter in Trnava, the Slovakians emerged 1-0 victors thanks to a first half strike from Jan Gregus. 

With Czech Republic edging Israel 1-0 shortly after, it means Scotland travel to Netanya knowing that a win will secure top spot in the group and promotion to the top tier of the Nations League. 

Previous meetings

The two sides are now familiar opponents, having met on four occasions in the last two years, with the record delicately poised over the course.

Israel inflicted a first defeat in the 2018 UEFA Nations League campaign for Scotland, winning 2-1 in Haifa after coming back from a goal down thanks to a Charlie Mulgrew penalty.

Scotland made amends for that defeat in November of that year, seeing out a hard-fought contest at Hampden with a 3-2 victory thanks to a James Forrest hat-trick and a spectacular late Allan McGregor save. The result not only clinched top spot in the Nations League, but also secured the now infamous EURO 2020 Play-off spot.

The two sides met again after being drawn together in the UEFA Nations League. A Ryan Christie penalty in front of an empty Hampden was not enough to secure victory for Steve Clarke’s side, as Israel fought back to clinch a 1-1 draw. 

With a perfectly poised head-to-head record over the past two years, it was no surprise that when the two sides last met, in the most important meeting of all, it took penalties to separate the two.

Kenny McLean fired home the match-winning spot-kick to fire Scotland through to the Play-Off Final, where history was made in Belgrade. 

Team news

Manager Steve Clarke made eight changes to his team on Sunday afternoon following the heroic efforts of his players in the triumphant Play-Off Final. 

Only Kieran Tierney, John McGinn and Ryan Christie remained in the starting eleven, with Craig Gordon replacing David Marshall in goals and Oli McBurnie stepping in for the suspended Lyndon Dykes.

 

The others coming in to the team – Liam Palmer, Andrew Considine, Scott McKenna, Liam Cooper and Kenny McLean – will be hoping they impressed the manager in the bid for a starting spot against Israel. Stuart Armstrong is suspended for the encounter, following his yellow card against Slovakia.

Despite that narrow defeat against Slovakia, the manager will certainly have a number of decisions to make following an impressive performance in Trnava.

Dykes is available for selection after serving his one match ban, while Ryan Christie will be looking to maintain his magnificent form in the final fixture of 2020. 

Pre-match thoughts 

Steve Clarke admitted he was disappointed to see his side fail to extend their unbeaten run.

However, the manager could not fault his players for their impressive performance against Slovakia, in which they dominated for large spells and played some excellent football.

Clarke said: "It's disappointing when your unbeaten run comes to an end, but there's a way for it to come to an end and I thought the performance was good.

"We got luck on our side for the last few games and maybe it wasn't quite on our side today," Clarke told BBC Scotland after defeat in Trnava. "We were a bit wasteful. We had decent chances and definitely deserved something.

"I think a lot of people would have put money on Leigh scoring with the last kick of the ball. It was a good strike, did everything right and it was a fantastic save from their goalkeeper - all credit to him.”

Clarke remains confident that his side can win the group and promotion to League A following Wednesday's final round of fixtures.

"I've always said to the players that the three-game window is very intense and you need almost all your players," he added. "I thought it took us 15-20 minutes to get a foothold in the game and that can come from so many changes.

"But this Nations League section is still in front of us. We go away, regroup and hopefully our next unbeaten run starts on Wednesday."

How to follow the match

The match will be shown live on Sky Sports Football, kicking off at 7.45pm.

You can also receive live updates via the official @ScotlandNT Twitter account.