Scotland vs Portugal - Fernando Santos wary of Scotland backlash at Hampden

Posted Sunday, October 14, 2018 by PA

Scotland vs Portugal - Fernando Santos wary of Scotland backlash at Hampden

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has warned his players that Scottish passion can pose them a problem at Hampden.

Portugal moved five points clear in their Nations League group (A3) on Thursday when they won 3-2 in Poland without star player Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been rested as he fights to clear his name following allegations that he raped a woman in Las Vegas in 2009, claims he strongly denies.

Scotland lost 2-1 in Israel on the same night to leave group C1 wide open, while Hampden is expected to be less than half full, but Santos is wary of Alex McLeish’s men and the home support.

“It’s a very tough game, Scotland are a strong opponent,” he said. “We have seen them playing 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 and set-ups we don’t usually play ourselves. They break away very well so we have to prepare for that.

“They have a really strong support, which is important for them.

“I know very well the passion of the Scottish game. I was here playing against Celtic in 2006 and Hibernian in 2001 and the passion around these games led the players to bring the best out of themselves. Scots are very passionate about football, I’m very well aware of that.”

Santos allowed Besiktas defender Pepe and Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva to leave the squad following the victory in Chorzow, but he insists he is not taking the game lightly.

“There are no friendly games, just games that score points and games that score no points,” he said. “We want to win.”

Meanwhile, Scotland captain Andy Robertson has stressed it is up to the players to perform better in Alex McLeish’s system as he denied criticising the manager.

McLeish has devised a 3-5-2 formation with Robertson at wing-back and Kieran Tierney inside him in a bid to accommodate both.

Robertson stated after Thursday’s 2-1 Nations League defeat in Israel that both he and Tierney wanted to play left-back and his new role was a “lot harder”.

The Liverpool player is likely to play in his normal position in Sunday’s Hampden friendly against Portugal after the withdrawal of the “fatigued” Tierney and the other two players who started in the back three in Haifa, injured pair Charlie Mulgrew and John Souttar.

But he clarified he had no problem with the tactics.

Robertson said: “What I said after the game, I stick by, that me and Kieran Tierney are used to playing left-back and are both playing a position that we don’t usually play at club level. But that doesn’t mean that’s an excuse for both of us.

“The whole team haven’t been good enough, especially on Thursday, and there’s no excuse in terms of positions. We can still get the basics right, which we never did on Thursday.

“I have played wing-back at Hull before, but in a slightly different position, so it’s a wee bit different for me.

“Maybe people took it as if I was taking a dig at the gaffer. Some people said that, which I completely disagree with. I have a very good relationship with the gaffer and it wasn’t a pop by any means, it was more me saying I need to learn it and every game I’m trying to learn it.”

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