VICTORY over Cyprus in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier at Hampden on Saturday was demanded of Scotland.

A win against Spain, a draw even, in their second Group A outing in Glasgow tomorrow evening will be an unexpected bonus.

Luis de la Fuente might have freshened up his squad since replacing Luis Enrique, who resigned in the wake of a desperately disappointing World Cup last year, as manager of his national team in December.

But his new look side still eased, thanks to a late double from 32-year-old debutant Joselu, to an emphatic 3-0 victory over an Erling Haalandless Norway in Malaga at the weekend.

The 10th placed team in the FIFA World Rankings will, despite their ignominious last 16 exit at the hands of Morocco in Qatar last year, be strong favourites to triumph when they face Scotland.

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Steve Clarke’s men, though, are conscious that if they want to finish in the top two in their section and book their place in the finals in Germany next summer automatically they have to take something against their Pot One opponents at home. 

None of them, then, be thinking the encounter is a “free hit” when they take to the field in front of a sell-out 50,000-strong crowd in Mount Florida.

“No, I don't think so,” said Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor yesterday as he looked ahead to the Spain match. “If we want to go to tournaments then these are the types of games we need to get something out of, if not be successful in.

“That's the benchmark. The benchmark is to get to tournaments. If you want to get there you need to take points and be really competitive in these games.

“You have to beat the teams who are ahead of you. We've jumped into Pot Two with our recent results which is good. But you have to beat the teams who are in front of you. If you want to qualify you need to get enough points come the end of the campaign.”

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Clarke and his backroom staff will ensure that every Scotland player is well briefed on what to expect from their rivals in the coming days.

McGregor, a keen student of the modern game who scrutinises matches across Europe on television every evening, is an admirer of Spanish football in general and many of their players individually and is already well aware of the visitors’ strengths.

“Spain are one of the top nations in the world,” he said. “I watch football all the time. It's always good to watch different countries, different cultures, see how they play, piece the game together. It will be a good test for us. The Spanish model is keep the ball, possession. So we will have to be good defensively. So it's important we do a lot right in the game.”

The Celtic captain believes it is vital the hosts impose themselves on proceedings too - and he is confident that they have the quality in every area of the park to do so. 

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“We still want to be aggressive in the game,” he said. “When we get the ball we have to retain it as well and give them something to think about. You can't just spend 90 minutes defending and not having the ball.

“That's modern day football now. You have to be good with the ball. If you are not good with the ball you spend too long without it and ultimately teams will find a way through because they have good players. I think to progress that's what we have to do.

“We have to be able to look after the ball and have periods of possession where we are making the other team think as well. I'm sure it will be interesting on Tuesday, a big test, but something we are looking forward to as a group.

“There's no reason why we can't go out, have a real crack at it and get a positive result. It would be one of the biggest results if we can get something. That has to be the focus - recover well and then attack the game properly.”

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McGregor and his compatriots watched Spain take on Norway in the La Roseleda Stadium in their city centre hotel on Saturday night with interest and were unsurprised to see them wear down their Scandinavian adversaries and pick up all three points.

De la Fuente started Dani Carvajal and Nacho (both Real Madrid), Aymeric Laporte and Rodri (both Manchester City), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid) and Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig) in his first match in charge. He put on Fabian Ruiz (Paris Saint Germain) and Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid) in the second-half. 

“It's quite a new squad, isn't it?” said McGregor. “There might not be too many I have faced before. But I've played against (Andres) Iniesta and guys like that in the past. They are a similar mould of players. It will be a good test.

“Rodri is a top player. He can receive it in any situation, keep the ball, be progressive with his passing and he's a big unit as well. He's strong in the duels and can do a bit of everything in there.”

McGregor, though, was impressed with contribution made by Barcelona teenagers Gavi and Alejandro Balde as well and anticipates the less experienced members of the Spain squad will be every bit as dangerous as their more renowned and revered countrymen. 

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“The one thing they have always had is that academy process,” he said. “They bring good players through, develop them really early, get them into the team, have that set way of playing. These guys are the future of Spanish football.

“It will be good for us to come up against them. But we will have to try and impose ourselves on them. There's no point standing back and trying to admire these guys.

“We made a good start, a positive start, on Saturday. We scored three goals, kept a clean sheet and it got us points on the board. But our full focus is on the game on Tuesday. It's a big test but it is something we are looking forward to.”