Steve Clarke wants return to winning ways – Scotland v Norway talking points

Scotland host Norway in their final Euro 2024 qualifier on Sunday night.

Steve Clarke’s side have already booked their place in Germany next summer after winning five of their first seven Group A games.

Here are some of the key talking points ahead of the game at Hampden.

Scotland now inspiring their rivals

Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke has led Scotland to back-to-back Euros (Steve Welsh/PA)

For much of their 23-year absence from major tournaments between France 98 and the Euros in 2021, Scotland would look to other nations for inspiration. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

Norway – whose last major tournament appearance was at Euro 2000 – find themselves in a similar predicament to the one the Scots freed themselves from a few years ago.

As the Scots prepare for a second consecutive visit to the Euros and Norway’s barren run from major tournaments extends to a minimum of 26 years, a Norwegian journalist asked both Steve Clarke and Callum McGregor on Saturday what his nation could learn from Scotland.

McGregor almost seemed embarrassed, saying: “I’m probably not the guy to tell Norway how to qualify for the next campaign.”

Clarke, meanwhile, kept the advice simple: “Trust the process, trust the coach, trust the players. Continue to work on the path you’re on if you think that’s the right path.” The Scots are very much on the right path under Clarke.

‘Mixed feelings’ over Erling Haaland’s absence

Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland is out of Sunday’s match at Hampden (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Scotland boss Clarke admitted to “mixed feelings” after it was confirmed on Saturday morning that Norway talisman Erling Haaland would miss out with an ankle injury.

The absence of the free-scoring Manchester City forward – who has 20 goals to his name already this term – takes some of the remaining sheen away from the dead-rubber match as a spectacle but it undoubtedly makes the task of securing a victory slightly easier for the Scots.

Connotations over Euro 2024 draw

Scotland
Germany-bound Scotland are set to find out their Euros pot status (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Sunday’s match will have a bearing on Scotland’s status for the Euro 2024 draw in Hamburg in a fortnight. If they beat Norway by two goals or more, they will almost certainly be in pot two, while a one-goal victory, a draw or a defeat will likely see them in pot three.

The way things are shaping up, it does not look like there will be a major benefit to being in pot two as opposed to pot three.

Indeed some Scotland supporters have mused that – with Albania, Turkey and Hungary among the sides currently on course to be in pot two – it may actually be in Scotland’s interests to settle for staying in pot three, from where they would arguably have a chance of an easier draw.

Long wait for home win over Norway

Chris Iwelumo
Chris Iwelumo missed an open goal against Norway 15 years ago (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scotland have won the last two meetings between the teams, although both of those matches were in Norway, earlier this year and in 2013. They have not beaten the Norwegians in their last three encounters at Hampden.

The most recent of those was the World Cup qualifier in 2008 when Scotland striker Chris Iwelumo famously missed an open goal in a 0-0 draw.

The Norwegians also kept a clean sheet on their previous match in Scotland when they won 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier in 2004 that saw James McFadden sent off, while they drew 1-1 in Glasgow on the night the Scots sealed qualification for Italia 90.

Scotland’s last home win over Norway came in a European Championship qualifier in October 1978.

Party time for Tartan Army

Scotland fans
Scotland fans will savour the end of a successful campaign (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Whatever the result on Sunday, it promises to be a joyous occasion for the Scotland support as they savour the end of a memorable and ultimately successful qualifying campaign.

The Scots have won each of their three home qualifiers so far and – after a run of four consecutive matches without victory this autumn – they will be hoping to finish off on a high as they take the acclaim of the Tartan Army at a sold-out Hampden.