Gordon Strachan: Scotland need match winners like Modric

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Scotland's Lyndon Dykes challenges Croatia's Luka Modric
Lyndon Dykes competes with Luka Modrid in Croatia v Scotland

In his latest Euro 2020 exclusive for Betfair Gordon Strachan says Scotland need match winners, backs Steve Clarke to take the team forward and urges England to be imaginative against Germany...

"There’s a predictability about the England team at the moment. It seems to be one variation - they give it to Raheem Sterling and Foden and ask them to get on with it. I think they’ll want a bit more movement and to get people round about Harry Kane, to give him more to work with."

I felt helpless watching Scotland lose to Croatia. Whenever I've been to Hampden I've always participated. It's easier to be a player or manager than a spectator.

Against England the Scotland midfield three more than held its own. But the midfield three of Croatia - and I've watched them a lot - hadn't played as well as they did until Monday night. They were fantastic. Luka Modric produced one of the best individual performances I've seen at Hampden and Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic were terrific.

For me, as a coach, it was great to say: "This is how you bring up midfielders if you're not giants or physically powerful." If you get close to them, Modric or Kovacic can beat you. Modric was something else.

The quality of the goals scored against Scotland has been phenomenal. You could say they've been allowed into positions where they can score. We need to analyse that as well. When it comes to the best five goals in the tournament four of them will probably have been against Scotland. We can hold our head up high, all the best goals have been scored against us!

Scotland need match winners, not strikers

After the match people were saying: "Scotland need strikers." But I don't think we're missing a lot of chances. We need match winners. Gareth Bale's not a striker. Likewise Christian Eriksen. You could look at him leaving Tottenham, and the way Dele Alli's goals dried up after that, and see that so many of them came from Eriksen.

Modric is not a striker but a match winner, he decides games with his performances and things he can make happen. Kevin de Bruyne is a match winner in midfield and the same is true of Eden Hazard.

Scotland need someone who can do extraordinary things. Whether it's a Riyad Mahrez or Bernardo Silva, they need a match winner.

Scotland have good players with great drive. But we need match winning moments on a consistent basis. Can you produce these guys or can you coach them? I think there's a bit of both to this. Gareth Bale was a left-back and somebody turned him into a match winner. How did that happen? There's no prototype training for this, you need to ask De Bruyne, you need to ask Modric: "What do you do, how were you brought up to make you into this wonderful player?"

Gareth Bale alone on pitch 1280.jpg

If Scotland had Bale, Modric, Eriksen or Robert Lewandowski in the last 10 years we would have qualified for every tournament. If we had that quality of player we would definitely be at the same level as Poland or Denmark. Hard work, determination and drive can get you a long, long way, but there is a point where you need match winners. And I don't care where they play, it's having that special player or two.

It's something I've been studying for years and I don't know how you go about producing these players. If you look at Denmark, after Eriksen, who's the next one? Maybe Andreas Christensen. It's not that you can produce a certain amount of these people, they're just one-offs.

We've had great players in the past but the level 30 years ago was not the same as it is now. Back then you had to be the best players in Britain, now you have to be the best players in the world. The bar has been raised. How can we make a player as good as they can be, first touch and all the rest of it. We have to work on the core strength because we're a smaller nation. But where do you get exceptional talents like De Bruyne or Modric?

Foden's another one. He's a joy to watch in the Premier League and the Champions League, but he's maybe not firing on all cylinders for England. But what a player. Where did he develop from? Maybe from watching David Silva.

Steve Clarke the man to take Scotland forward

Steve Clarke is absolutely still the man to take Scotland forward. If you've not got top players you've got to develop a system that's hard to beat. He developed that team spirit and they like working together. If you've got that you'll go a long way.

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You'll hear about "lessons learned" from Scotland's experience at Euro 2020, which is a hell of a cliche. There's nothing you can do if there are players that jump higher than us or dribble by us. You've always got to find out what these lessons are. It's a cliche that's used after every tournament, but what are they? The lesson learned is that we'll hopefully not play against anyone that's got Modric.

The big decisions Clarke made against England proved the team spirit in the group. Playing with two strikers as well when a lot of people aren't into that at the moment. He had Scott McTominay at the back which made them a bit braver with the ball and two strikers that gave England a harder game than they've seen for a while.

As a holding midfielder Billy Gilmour was great with the other two beside him because they were all on the same wavelength. He allowed us to go into areas where we could attack. He's at a great side and they pass the ball out from goal kicks. Around him there's different sorts of players. How many people from that Scotland team would Chelsea take? So it's a different level he's playing with. A player playing at a top club can only be good for us. The two beside him did very well.

France are worthy favourites but watch out for grizzly Italy

France are still the team to beat. Belgium are going to be hard opponents for anyone. You don't want to be playing Italy - even when they made a number of changes against Wales, I thought Roberto Mancini's men looked decent, they have a strength about them. Every Italian player looks like a man, some of these others teams look like they have boys playing. They look like grizzly men, like they could be bandits in a Western or cowboys.

England need to play with creativity to beat Germany

I like Gareth Southgate, I've spent a lot of time with him so I hope he does well. I'm not so fussed about England fans jumping about, that doesn't excite me and actually puts me off. But, anything that's good for Gareth, I'm alright with that. I like the players that I've spoken to and I'll back them.

There's a predictability about the England team at the moment. It seems to be one variation - they give it to Raheem Sterling and Foden and ask them to get on with it. I think they'll want a bit more movement and to get people round about Harry Kane, to give him more to work with.

It's a bit rigid at the moment. The creative players need more running off the ball and a bit more going on in front of them. I'd play Kyle Walker, he takes off and gets into great positions which allows people with ability to have more room. He can work some magic.

Raheem Sterling 956.jpg

Somebody needs to get closer to Kane, he needs more support around him and it doesn't matter if it comes from a striker it can come from a midfielder too. You need a bit of variation.

Germany have variation, they can play through you, over the top of you and they can attack down the sides. If you're a defending team playing against one variation it becomes a bit easier. England have good players and if there's different things happening you have to think as a defender and be on your toes.

Kalvin Philips is key for England, he's the one that makes that run, but when I see him play for Leeds he's got a bigger range of passing. Maybe that's because of the mentality at Leeds and there are so many people running about all over the place, it's mayhem there, but he seems to have a bigger range there.

I would definitely keep picking Phillips. But the question is do you need two sitting midfielders? Man City don't usually play with two, it's usually just Fernandinho. Phillips can see the passes and he can be useful going forward.

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