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Scotland's Fletcher seeks to defy odds in Spain

Published: Monday 10 October 2011, 15.20CET
Darren Fletcher knows the odds are against Scotland as they seek to book a play-off place with victory in Spain but says they will approach their Alicante test with a fighting spirit.
by Alex O'Henley
from Alicante
Scotland's Fletcher seeks to defy odds in Spain
Darren Fletcher (left) knows Scotland must produce an upset ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 10 October 2011, 15.20CET

Scotland's Fletcher seeks to defy odds in Spain

Darren Fletcher knows the odds are against Scotland as they seek to book a play-off place with victory in Spain but says they will approach their Alicante test with a fighting spirit.

Darren Fletcher is hoping it will be third time lucky against Spanish opposition when he leads Scotland against the European champions in Alicante on Tuesday.

The Manchester United FC midfielder was a helpless spectator when his club lost two UEFA Champions League finals against FC Barcelona − suspended for the 2009 final in Rome, the 27-year-old then had to be content with a place on the bench in May as Barcelona beat United 3-1 at Wembley.

However, Fletcher, who shook off a bout of tonsillitis to captain Scotland to a 1-0 win in Liechtenstein on Saturday, is eager for a change of fortunes given a victory against Spain in the teams' last UEFA EURO 2012 Group I qualifier would secure a play-off place for his country.

"My experiences with Spanish sides, especially Barcelona, have not been great," acknowledged Fletcher, who has also overcome an ankle knock. "In saying that, we played well at Hampden and got goals [when Spain beat Scotland 3-2 last October].

"They are the best side in the world – the world and European champions – so we are under no illusions of what we are up against. While there is still a fighting chance of qualifying, you want to be involved. I have great respect for the manager and all the lads, and as captain I want to be here and play my part."

Weekend results took Scotland above the Czech Republic – defeated at home by group winners Spain – by a point, meaning they need only match what Michal Bílek's side achieve in their final fixture away to Lithuania to seal second spot. While acknowledging that the odds are against Craig Levein's team, Fletcher is invoking the spirit with which Scotland twice beat France in 2008 qualifying, as they bid to inflict what would be just a third competitive home loss for La Roja in 20 years.

"If you go there with fear you will end up playing into their hands," said Fletcher, who has 56 caps. "We know we will be under the cosh for long spells but we have to be positive as well as disciplined. If we open up too much and try to take the game to Spain, then I think we would get punished and be out of the game fairly quickly, so in that respect it is going to be difficult.

"However, it's in our hands and that's all you can ask for going into the final game. Hopefully, Lithuania will do us a favour as well, which would be nice. No one is expecting us to win but you never know – stranger things have happened."

Last updated: 11/10/11 15.08CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1694709.html#fletcher+vows+defy+odds

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