Still plenty to play for – Scotland v Georgia talking points

Scotland take on Georgia in their penultimate Euro 2024 qualifier in Tbilisi on Thursday night.

Steve Clarke’s side have already qualified for Germany after winning five of their first six Group A games.

Here are some of the key talking points ahead of the game at the Boris Paichadze Stadium.

Pots not prizes

Scotland are highly unlikely to top the group given they sit on 15 points with Spain, who are seven goals better off and finish with games against Cyprus and Georgia. An unfortunate slip from Aaron Hickey late on in Seville last month led to a second Spanish goal and wiped out Scotland’s head-to-head advantage. However, good results against Georgia and Norway will boost Scotland’s hopes of landing in the second pot of seeds for next month’s Euro 2024 draw as well as regaining momentum after three consecutive defeats.

Breaking the spell

Scotland have twice come unstuck in Tbilisi before – their Euro 2008 and Euro 2016 campaigns suffered fatal blows against Georgia. Having beaten France home and away, Alex McLeish’s side lost 2-0 against a side featuring three teenagers, including 17-year-old goalkeeper Giorgi Makaridze and 17-year-old goalscorer Levan Mchedlidze. Gordon Strachan was also on the end of a defeat in Tbilisi as the hosts frustrated Scotland in a 1-0 win. Despite being unbeaten against qualification rivals Poland and Republic of Ireland, Scotland missed out on a play-off.

A chance to shine

Scotland are without about half a team of likely starters – Angus Gunn, Kieran Tierney, Grant Hanley, Hickey, Andy Robertson and Che Adams are all absent. The game could give the likes of Nathan Patterson, Greg Taylor, Anthony Ralston, the uncapped Josh Doig and late call-up Lawrence Shankland the chance to impress.

Who is in goal?

Clarke gave nothing away on who would replace Gunn, who has only conceded three goals in six qualifiers. Motherwell captain Liam Kelly and Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark are looking for their competitive debuts after both won their first caps in last month’s 4-1 friendly defeat by France. Rangers number two Robby McCrorie replaced Gunn in the squad.

Motivated opponents

Georgia cannot finish in the top two but they can still go to Euro 2024 through the Nations League play-offs. Willy Sagnol’s side were the top ranked team in Group C after winning emphatically away to Bulgaria and North Macedonia, and will take their place in the play-off tournament in March.