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Charlie Christie gives his opinion on defeats to Netherlands and Northern Ireland

By Will Clark

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Scotland lost their previous two friendlies.
Scotland lost their previous two friendlies.

With just under 40 minutes played in Amsterdam last Friday, most Scottish fans would have been delighted with what they had witnessed as their team dictated much of the opening period, playing some excellent football, and creating the best of the chances.

Fast forward four days and the boos that rang out at Hampden as Steve Clarke’s men succumbed to an inexperienced and youthful Northern Ireland side perhaps spoke volumes for the expectations we now have regarding our national team.

There is little doubt that the two-game international get together did not go as Clarke and his squad would have hoped and threw up some debate as to team selections and formations.

Whilst it was unanimously agreed that the 4-0 scoreline at the end of that friendly in Holland was not a true reflection of the match and there were lots of positives to take from the game, the struggles displayed on Tuesday night at a rain-soaked Hampden as we tried to break down a determined and organised Irish team gave more cause for concern.

The 82 per cent possession we enjoyed produced only two efforts on target. Whilst there was no lack of effort there was little goalmouth action at the end of it as we moved the ball far too slowly across the pitch. It allowed the Northern Irish to regain shape at ease and almost always have an overload in the defensive areas.

In recent years we have produced our best performances when we can maintain our own

shape, not have to chase the game, and create openings against sides who have committed players forward at precise moments.

Think of the Serbian game in Belgrade, the momentous home win against Spain and the dramatic last ditch win in Norway and all these games followed similar patterns.

Anyone involved in football will tell you that one of the most difficult challenges at any level is breaking down a structured defensive formation.

Once we gifted Michael O’Neill’s side a goal after half an hour it gave them something to hang on to and Northern Ireland defended for their lives from there on in.

Whilst the doom mongers will have a field day for a time with those results, it must be remembered that results in friendly matches count for little.

It will be on Friday, June 14 in Munich when the real action starts.

I have no doubt that this same squad of players who did exceptionally well to get us to Germany will respond in the correct manner.

The tens of thousands of the Tartan army who will be there will have plenty to shout about once again.

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