Scotland will look to end their two-match losing streak on Tuesday when they will travel to Philip II Arena for a European 2014 World Cup qualifying match with Macedonia.
The Scots currently sit at the bottom of their Group A table, but just four points separate the lowest four teams in the group. Macedonia, winners against Wales and Bulgaria their last two times out, are currently fourth in the table but just two points ahead of Scotland.
In what should be a crucial match for both finishing power in Group A and bragging rights between the two European nations, Scotland and Macedonia will return to the pitch less than a week after their last World Cup qualifier. Scotland were 2-0 losers to Belgium, while Macedonia defeated Wales 2-1.
As noted by BT Sport's Derek Rae, the pursuit of international glory never stops:
After that it's Macedonia v Scotland live on BT Sport 1 this Tuesday. No such thing as an international 'break' :-)— Derek Rae (@RaeComm) September 6, 2013
The two countries played to a 1-1 draw in 2012 during the first leg at Hampden Park.
To prepare you for one of the more intriguing matches on the international qualifying Tuesday schedule, here's a look at the way Scotland-Macedonia shapes out before kickoff.
Who: Macedonia vs. Scotland
When: Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 2:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. BST)
Where: Philip II Arena, Leninova, Skopje, Macedonia
Watch: BT Sport 1
Live Stream: ESPN3/WatchESPN
Goalkeepers: Tome Pacovski (Mechelen, Belgium); Darko Tofilovska (Kosice, Slovakia), Christian Naumovski (Dinamo Bucharest, Romania)
Defenders: Boban potter (Q Botev., Bulgaria), Stefan Ristovski (Latina, Italy); Nikolce Noveski (Mainz 05, Germany); Vance Shikov (Volin, Ukraine), Alexander Lazevski (Goverla, Ukraine) Daniel Georgievski (Steaua Bucharest, Romania), Daniel Mojsov (Brann, Norway), Daniel Ivanovski (Mjalbi, Sweden)
Midfielders: Ostoja Stjepanovikj (Wisla Krakow, Poland), Darko (Kiryat Shmona, Israel); Nikola Gligorov (Hazara Lankaran, Azerbaijan), David Babunski (B Barcelona, Spain)
Forwards: Ivan Trichkovski (Vasland Beveren, Belgium), Goran Pandev (Napoli, Italy), Mirko Ivanovski (Astra, Romania); Agim Ibrahimi (Maribor, Slovenia), Aleksandar Trajkovski (Zulte c., Belgium); Addis Jahovic (Will, Switzerland), John Kostovski (Leuven, Belgium)
*via Macedonia's official team website, FFM-MK.com.
Defenders: Ikechi Anya (Watford), Gordon Greer (Brighton and Hove Albion), Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers), Alan Hutton (Aston Villa), Russell Martin (Norwich City), Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic), Steven Whittaker (Norwich City).
Midfielders: Charlie Adam (Stoke City), Barry Bannan (Aston Villa), George Boyd (Hull City), Scott Brown (Celtic), Craig Conway (Cardiff City), Graham Dorrans (West Bromwich Albion), James Forrest (Celtic), James McArthur (Wigan Athletic), James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion), Steven Naismith (Everton), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City).
*via Daily Record.
Scotland was the first UEFA team to be eliminated from 2014 World Cup qualifying, putting a major damper on their hexagonal matches over the last few months.
Despite that obvious setback, the team has made progress since that reality was affirmed, giving England a major scare at Wembley in August and showing progress under manager Gordon Strachan's tutelage and coaching.
Depending on Serbia's result with Croatia on Tuesday, the Scots have a chance to move out of the basement in Group A and pass Macedonia in the process. Though they have just five points in eight matches, the Tartan Terriers can make a big statement about their future with a win.
As reported by Stephen McGowan of the Daily Mail, finishing dead last at the bottom of the qualifying table "scares" Strachan. The Scots have finished at the bottom of a qualifying group just once in their history.
Pursuit of a spot in Brazil might be for naught, but Scotland can work toward a brighter future by continuing to prioritize smart football ahead of results. That being said, players still want results.
Check out this tweet from Sky Sports Football for confirmation:
Steven Whittaker says Scotland are heading in the right direction but wants results to start matching performances. http://t.co/D2zrtsiwGr— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 9, 2013
Strachan's side faces a major test in Macedonia. Hopefully for the Tartan Army, their progress will be moving in the right direction after the match.
With injuries to subs Charlie Adam and Jordan Rhodes and a yellow card as motivation, Strachan will have to get creative with how he attacks the Macedonia defense on Tuesday.
Robert Snodgrass will miss the match via suspension after picking up a yellow card against Belgium, but there's a good chance we again see Leigh Griffiths, Shaun Maloney and Scott Brown on the attacking side of the field for Scotland.
Jamie Mackie and Ross McCormack are two more who could see time in a depleted front line.
Assistant Scotland manager Mark McGhee had strong words for his team's trip to Scotland earlier in the week. Per The Telegraph's Roddy Forsyth, McGhee says the Scots must get nasty and avoid making friends if they want to win the match.
Macedonia will defend Philip II Arena fervently after winning their last two matches, but previously the Red Lynx had dropped four straight decisions. Two of those came to Belgium in consecutive qualifying matches.
Captain Goran Pandev is nursing a shoulder issue, but is expected to play against the Tartan Terriers. He will be a big lift to the home side.
Scotland are motivated and face one of their biggest tests in recent memory, while Macedonia have confidence in themselves and Cedomir Janevski's leadership. In a tight match, each team escapes with just one point in the qualifying table.
Macedonia 1, Scotland 1
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