Scotland assistant coach John Carver admits getting another win over Spain would be all the sweeter given the “disrespectful” comments some of their opponents made in the wake of their Hampden defeat.
Carver was “agitated” by criticism from the likes of Manchester City midfielder Rodri after Scotland beat Spain 2-0 in March.
But the former Newcastle interim manager believes his players will not be distracted by the issue ahead of Thursday’s return fixture in Seville, in which Scotland can qualify for Euro 2024.
Spain captain Rodri claimed the way Scotland played was “rubbish” as he accused them of wasting time, provoking his team-mates and falling over, while debutant David Garcia argued the Hampden grass was too long.
Carver said: “I have got to be honest, I didn’t like it. I felt it was disrespectful. But it was their prerogative to say whatever they wanted to say. Whether they used that as an excuse, I don’t know.
“As far I was concerned, it agitated me and I’m sure it would have got to some of the players.
“But there’s a long time gone since then and it’s about being professional and having a clear head going into this game. So I don’t think it will be a distraction.
“Any win is sweet and you celebrate it for sure, but after what they said it would be nice to win.”
Spain have scored 16 goals in their subsequent three qualifiers and will be out to surpass Scotland’s 2-0 win to give themselves the best chance of topping the group.
Carver added: “I think they will be out to prove a point. A lot has changed since then, they had just brought in a new manager, they had changed quite a bit of the team.
“They are now more settled and have had a couple of great results and scored some goals.
“It’s a different type of game. They will have one eye on what happened at Hampden when we beat them, but they are professionals like we are and their minds will be on this game.”
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) October 9, 2023
Scotland have won all five of their Euro 2024 qualifiers and a point on Thursday would be enough to seal a place in next summer’s finals in Germany, while victory would secure top spot in the group.
Even defeat could lead to qualification if Norway fail to beat Cyprus at the same time, or fail to beat Spain three days later in Oslo.
Carver is just focused on getting as many points as possible rather than thinking about qualification.
“It would be great, but to be honest I am not even thinking about that,” he said. “We are in a great position, we still have three games left in this group. I want to get as many points as we can and keep this run going.
“You can say a point would be good enough, but I want to get nine points and, if not nine points, then seven points.
“That’s the attitude we have got to have because you know what it’s like going into tournaments – if you eventually get there you want to go into it with confidence.”
Carver confirmed manager Steve Clarke was still considering whether to switch to a back four following Kieran Tierney’s hamstring injury.
“We have had many, many hours of discussions on the telephone and continued that on Sunday,” he said. “It’s something we are definitely thinking about, but I am not going to give too much away.”
Scotland have lost Ryan Jack after the midfielder missed Rangers’ last two matches with injury, with nobody called up in his place.