Steven Naismith believes “all the small things” are going in Scotland’s favour ahead of their Euro 2020 play-off final against Serbia on Thursday.
Steve Clarke’s side travel to Belgrade knowing that a win will see Scotland qualify for their first major tournament since the World Cup in France in 1998.
Hearts forward Naismith, who won the most recent of his 51 caps for his country in the victory over Kazakhstan last November, knows the importance of the clash to the nation and thinks Scotland have a few advantages going into the game.
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“It’s massive, I’ve been involved in the national team for close to 15 years and I don’t think there is a bigger game, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
“It is a one-off game, it is going to be a really tough game but all the small things I would say are going in our favour – there are no fans away from home, it is a one-off game and the Nations League has been good for us.
“We are on a run of good performances and good results and the players have bought into what the manager expects and I am very optimistic but I would guard that they are a very good team that we are coming up against.”
Scotland are unbeaten in eight games heading into the final after recent impressive wins over the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Naismith sees talented players throughout the squad and believes their ability to win in different circumstances is key for Scotland.
“The confidence that I get is that the backbone and spine of the squad are talented, talented players,” he said.
“They have consistently improved but also come up with the goods. Whether, way back against Cyprus, we are going a goal down, we are getting back into the game and winning the game, whether we need to defend well to see out a game the boys have come up with the goods every time. That’s what gives me confidence.”
Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish says the team have to be optimistic heading into the game but is well aware of the test in front of them.
McLeish managed Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic while the pair were at Genk in Belgium and the former Rangers boss says Serbia have quality in the squad.
“It is a tough one, it is not one that you can say ‘we will definitely beat them’,” he said.
“We’ve all got to be optimistic and say this is now or never, although it is not now or never because there have been great signs over the past few weeks and a great result against the Czech Republic.
“But that is a tough team and it is a tough place to go to, albeit no fans. That is still a very difficult game. They have guys like Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – a young guy I had at Genk – and he is in the form of his life as well, so very dangerous players.”
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