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Preview: Georgia vs. Scotland

Sports Mole looks ahead to Friday night's Group D Euro 2016 qualifier as Scotland travel to face Georgia in Tbilisi.

With Germany and Poland facing each other in a top-of-the-table clash, Scotland know that victory in Tbilisi over Georgia could move them up to second in Group D.

A win would be a huge boost for Gordon Strachan's side ahead of Monday's showdown at home to Germany.


Georgia

Georgia's Giorgi Navalovski (R) and Germany's midfielder Mesut Ozil vie for the ball during the Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Georgia and Germany at the Boris-Paitschadse-Stadium in Tbilisi , Georgia on March 29, 2015© Getty Images

The Crusaders are without a point or a goal in qualifying since Temuri Ketsbaia was replaced by Kahkaber Tshkadadze after the 4-0 home defeat to Poland in November last year.

Tshkadadze's first two games in charge couldn't have been much harder, though, as they hosted world champions Germany before having to go to Poland, suffering another 4-0 defeat to the group leaders.

They were only 1-0 down after 88 minutes in Warsaw but then let Robert Lewandowski score three to add gloss to the victory.

Georgia have lost five of their six qualifiers, with their only victory coming against the lowest-ranked side in the group, Gibraltar.

At home they are without a competitive win in almost three years and have only scored once in that six-game winless stretch.

They have never qualified for the finals of a major tournament, coming closest to reach the Euro finals the first year they participated in 1996, when they finished third in Group 7.

Recent Euro 2016 qualifying form: LLWLLL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLLL


Scotland

Scotland bench celebrate after Scotland's midfielder Shaun Maloney scores their opening goal of the Euro 2016 Qualifier, Group D football match between Scotland and Republic of Ireland at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland on November 14, 2014© Getty Images

Poland and Germany are not out of sight yet and Scotland could finish in one of the top two places that guarantees passage to the finals in France next summer.

Even if they can't overhaul the aforementioned duo, Strachan's men are two points clear of Ireland in the race for third spot, which suggests at least a two-legged playoff.

Scotland have lost just one of their last eight matches and have scored in each of their last 12 internationals, netting 19 total goals in the process.

Their campaign started with a trip to recently-crowned World Cup winners Germany, and the Scots almost stunned the home side before losing out 2-1.

Since then, they have won three out of three at home against Georgia, Ireland and Gibraltar as well as drawing on the road in Poland and Ireland.

Shaun Maloney, who is Scotland's top scorer so far in qualifying, has scored with four of his six shots on target. Only Lewandowski (seven) and Thomas Muller (five) of Poland and Germany respectively have more goals than the Hull City man.

Recent form: LWDWWD
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWWD


Team News

Stuart Armstrong of Celtic in action during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying play off first leg match, between Celtic FC and Malmo FF at Celtic Park on August 19, 2015 in Glasgow Scotland.© Getty Images

Celtic's Stuart Armstrong is the only uncapped player called up by Strachan, who was also able to welcome back Championship duo Chris Martin and Allan McGregor into the fold.

Grant Hanley also returns, but the Blackburn Rovers man must be wary as he and James Morrison are both a booking away from a one-match ban that would see them miss Monday's visit of Germany.

Matt Ritchie started the last qualifier against Ireland on the right of midfield and will hope that his recent experience of playing in the Premier League with Bournemouth will see him hold down his place ahead of Ikechi Anya.

For the hosts, Murtaz Daushvili and Jaba Kankava would miss Monday's trip to the Republic of Ireland if they are booked on Friday.

Georgia possible starting lineup:
Loria; Lobzhanidze, Kashia, Amisulashvili, Dvali, Navalovski; Okriashvili, Ananidze, Kobakhidze, Qazaishvili; Vatsadze

Scotland possible starting lineup:
Marshall; Hutton, Martin, Mulgrew, Robertson; Ritchie, Brown, Morrison, Maloney; Naismith, Fletcher


Head To Head

Georgia have only ever played Scotland once on home soil and claimed a 2-0 victory in October 2007 in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

The other two meetings in Scotland have both been won by the hosts, with the reverse settled by Akaki Khubutia's first-half own goal.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Georgia 0-1 Scotland

The Scots were far from convincing in the reverse in Glasgow, but with qualification getting ever closer, Strachan's side won't waste the chance to put the pressure on Poland, Germany and Ireland, who all play later on Friday.



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Andrew Robertson of Scotland battles for the ball with Giorgi Papava of Georgia during the EURO 2016 Qualifier match on October 11, 2014
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