'You can't just defend': McGregor says Scotland will have plan for Spain

The Scotland midfielder says the team will believe they can get a positive result.

Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor admits his side will have to be compact and hard-working against Spain on Tuesday but insists they can’t just aim to shut out the top seeds.

McGregor played his part as Scotland began their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 3-0 victory over Cyprus at Hampden, with John McGinn opening the scoring before Scott McTominay struck twice in the closing minutes.

Tuesday’s opponents will ask far tougher questions of Steve Clarke’s team and Spain began their own group stage games with a 3-0 win against Norway on Saturday.

Celtic captain McGregor is under no illusions about how good Spain are, but says Scotland will need to have a plan to get on the front foot when they can and aim to do some damage.

“Of course it’ll be a different game [from Cyprus],” he said. “We’ll probably need to suffer without the ball a little bit and be defensively compact, be good, make blocks, make tackles, get up and then, you know, try and play a little bit on the counter-attack.

“But I think when we get the ball back, we have to make good choices and have a spell with the ball as well.

“You can’t just defend for 90 minutes. So, you know, obviously we’ll come up with a plan in the next couple of days.

“We’ll just rest, recover and then when we get to Tuesday, our full focus will be on getting the result.”

“The Cyprus game was all about starting well and building confidence within the group and the nation that we can be positive going into Tuesday. We know it will be a difficult game but we have to approach the game with the mindset that we can win. Other than that there’s no point in turning up.”

While Tuesday is the high-profile match of the double-header, it was Saturday’s game against Cyprus that represented a personal landmark for McGregor. The 29-year-old earned his 50th international cap and said that he felt “immensely proud” about the achievement.

He said: “As it started to get closer I began to think about it but to play once for Scotland would have been a dream come true and that would have been enough.

“To make it to 50 is obviously a special moment for me and my family. It’s something I have worked really hard for and I’m delighted and really proud.”

Asked if he could make it to another 50, McGregor laughed. “We’ll see,” he said. “I might be getting too old by that point but I just want to play as long as I can and keep trying to help the team.”

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