Strachan: Mandzukic is unstoppable

06 June 2013 05:47

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan admits attempting to nullify the threat posed by Mario Mandzukic is likely to be an impossible task in Friday's clash with Croatia.

The Scots head into the World Cup qualifier in Zagreb knowing they face a side with talent all over the pitch. All Strachan can ask of his own players is for them to perform to their highest level and hope they can return with an elusive first win of the campaign.

But he believes that coping with Mandzukic - who netted for Bayern Munich in the Champions League final - will be as tough as stopping Lionel Messi. He said: "Everybody is aware of Mandzukic unless you come from Planet Zog. You know what he does, how he plays. I know what he does but I can't stop him."

Strachan added: "It's all right knowing what he does. It's like Messi. People know what he does but nobody can stop him. We will try our best. The longer we keep the ball, then the less chance there is of the other team doing well. Whatever team you're playing for, the longer you keep the ball, the less chance there is of the other team hurting you."

He added: "The [Croatia] team as a whole have a good variation in play. It's not just short passes; it can be longer passes, it can be crosses. You need to be on your toes. With some teams, you know exactly what's coming. With Croatia, they can vary their play, which I think is fantastic.

"Manchester United are a bit like that, they can vary their play. I think the Croatian players can play any time, anywhere, in any conditions."

On just how tricky a task his side face, Strachan said: "If you asked every other country in the world bar two, they would probably think it's the hardest one you can get. It is hard. We are young, the squad is young, but it's good to get used to everything in international football - even this."

The Scots sit bottom of the section with just two points. Asked what would be a positive result against Croatia, Strachan said: "To get some sort of points from it and for everybody to get back on the bus and say 'I did as well as I could'. That's the coaching staff, the players, everybody.

"We couldn't have used the hours any more so they must feel good about themselves because we've left nothing to chance. It's a situation where every player must decide whether they are going to have an average game or a good game or a great game.

"I would like to think they will go for great games and, if they can't have great games, they've got to be good team-mates."

Source: PA