Scotland boss Steve Clarke is confident the national side are up to the challenge of defeating World Cup finalists Croatia.
Victory is a necessity for Scotland tonight at Hampden Park if they are to advance to the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time.
Clarke, who had a last-minute spanner thrown in the works by Billy Gilmour’s positive Covid test, is paying no heed to those who have written Croatia off.
Zlatko Dalic’s side have struggled to impress in their opening two games, losing 1-0 to England and drawing 1-1 with the Czech Republic.
They too know they need to win in Glasgow to reach the knockout stages.
Clarke said: “You’re talking about a team that played in the last World Cup Final. They have quality players, but they are obviously looking for a little spark in the tournament.
“But they are good players, make no mistake about it and they are going to cause us a lot of problems tomorrow night. We’re going to have to play our best game. We’re going to have to play as well as we can to get the result we want.
“People may say they are past their peak, but they are the No.1 seeds. They always qualify for tournaments, have top, top players in their team and we need to respect them as we do with all our opponents.
“Then we have to go out there and find a way to beat them because, as much as they want to make it to the knock-out stages, so do we.”
Scotland have never lost to Croatia, winning two and drawing three of their competitive meetings.
Their last game was a World Cup qualifier in 2013, in which Scotland won 2-0 thanks to goals from Robert Snodgrass and Steven Naismith.
Croatia earned plaudits for their relentless, energetic play in their run to the final in Russia and in Luka Modric still possess genuine top-class talent.
Clarke added: “You have to try to deal with the opposition as and when the situations arise. Modric is such a clever player that if you tried to man mark him I’m sure he’d find a way round it.
“So we’ve got to look for the nearest person to him to be the first man to make the press on him. Hopefully that can keep him under control.
“I’m sure, with a player of that quality, it’s going to be difficult to keep him under control for the full 95 minutes or whatever it is. But we’ll do our best.
“Croatia will have enough legs in their team, don’t worry about that. It’s a big game, they are professionals and they know better than us what it takes to get into the knock-out stages of a major tournament because they’ve been there before and we haven’t.
“They are wily old foxes, but we’re ready for them.”