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Scotland v Spain: Euro 2024 qualifying – live

6 min: Dykes nicks the ball in midfield, and lays off to Hickey on the right. Hickey doesn’t have many options, and you half expect him to blooter a long ball upfield just to get out of bother. But he pings infield, McGinn, McTominay and Porteous confidently retaining possession and Scotland recycle. A good sign.

4 min: Other than that, it’s a fairly staccato start to the match. Neither side yet to properly settle.

2 min: Christie and McGinn shuttle the ball down the middle for Dykes, who takes a whack from the left-hand edge of the D. Porro blocks well. A decent early showing by the hosts.

Spain get the ball rolling, and knock it around the back. They cop some pantomime abuse. Imagine Kate Forbes’ response to Humza Yousaf’s offer of the Rural Affairs gig, only more polite.

Here come the teams! Scotland aren’t wearing their super-retro nae-logo 150th centenary shirt, but their usual still-super-retro mid-80s effort is still very pretty. No red socks today, though, what with the visitors resplendent in that very same colour. Then the anthems, both of which are corkers. Once hands are clasped, coins are tossed, and pennants exchanged, we’ll be underway.

Steve Clarke, calm and considered, speaks to Viaplay Sports. “It’s what you play football for, to be involved in games and nights like this … we’re certainly looking forward to the game … we’ve got a good squad of players and you have to utilise them at the right time … the changes were already in my mind before [McTominay and Christie] did what they did on Saturday … you have to freshen the team a little bit but not change it too much … it’s a challenge, Spain are one of the top European sides … you have to trust in your ability and play almost the perfect game … hopefully if enough people in the team do that, you get the right result … we have to be switched on …if we play to our very best, hopefully that’ll be enough to get us something good tonight.”

A belated happy birthday to Joselu. The Espanyol striker, formerly of Newcastle United and Stoke City, turned 33 yesterday. He makes his first international start tonight, having come off the bench for his debut against Norway on Saturday to score two late goals in as many minutes.

That weekend cameo saw Joselu become the oldest Spanish debutant since Ferenc Puskas, who was 34 when he first turned out for Spain against Morocco in 1961. Puskas never scored in four appearances while representing Spain as a naturalised citizen, though he did manage to notch 84 goals in 85 matches during his time with Hungary, so his international legacy wasn’t in too much danger of being tarnished.

Tonight’s other game in Group A has just finished: Georgia 1-1 Norway. Alexander Sørloth gave Norway the lead on 15 minutes; Georges Mikautadze equalised on the hour. Then the ball dropped to an unmarked Martin Ødegaard … and oh my. A decent result for Scotland.

Scotland make three changes to the starting XI named for the 3-0 win over Cyprus. Lyndon Dykes replaces the injured Che Adams up front, while Scott McTominay reaps the reward of his quickfire two-goal contribution against the Cypriots by starting in midfield alongside Ryan Christie. Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Jack are the pair to make way, both dropping to the bench.

Spain make eight changes to their starting team in the wake of their 3-0 victory over Norway. Kepa, Rodri and Mikel Merino are the only players to keep their place. Some instant reaction to that from our man in the press box can be found below.

Scotland: Gunn, Hickey, Porteous, Hanley, Tierney, Robertson, McGinn, McTominay, McGregor, Christie, Dykes.
Subs: Kelly, Clark, Patterson, Shankland, Hyam, Gilmour, Cooper, Armstrong, Ferguson, Brown, Jack, McLean.

Spain: Kepa, Porro, Garcia, Martinez, Gaya, Rodri, Merino, Pino, Ceballos, Oyarzabal, Joselu.
Subs: Sanchez, Raya, Nacho, Laporte, Morata, Ruiz, Gavi, Iglesias, Aspas, Williams, Carvajal, Zubimendi.

Referee: Sandro Schärer (Switzerland).

Scotland last welcomed Spain to Hampden Park in 2010, at the height of the Red Fury’s pomp. Given that the Spanish were reigning world and European champions, and were at the start of a mission that would see them retain their Euro title, a narrow 3-2 defeat reflected well on Scotland.

The Scots were underdogs then, and they’re underdogs now. But the gap between the teams isn’t what it was in 2010. Spain are only (only!) tenth in the world these days, while Scotland no longer have a manager who sends out his team in a 4-6-0 formation. Spain are coming off the back of a disappointing World Cup, while the Scots are comparatively happy with their lot, having won promotion to the top tier of the Nations League. “Scotland are a very strong rival,” new Spanish coach Luis de la Fuente says diplomatically. “They’ve got a good team that has evolved over the years. Scotland are a very intense team. The whole team has quality.”

All good, though when you boil the bones down, Scotland are still up against it tonight. Spain’s 3-0 win over Norway on Saturday was more clinical than Scotland’s victory by the same score against Cyprus, and they’ve lost just one of their last 18 Euro qualifiers away from home, against Slovakia in October 2014. They’ve won 14 of the other 17. And they’ve not lost to Scotland since 1984, when Kenny Dalglish lit up a World Cup qualifier with one of his trademark whips into the top corner. (What a belter that was!) But Scotland are unbeaten in eight matches at Hampden, and there’s always hope. Kick off is at 7.45pm BST. It’s on!

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