Head to head
As Scotland play host to Argentina we look at the strengths and weaknesses of the two nations.
Last Updated: 19/11/08 8:26am
Scotland play host to Argentina at Hampden Park, live on Sky Sports 1 and HD 1on Wednesday. The match marks Diego Maradona's first game in charge of the South Americans. Here, skysports.com assesses both nations
George Burley has endured mixed fortunes since replacing Alex McLeish at the Scotland helm back in January. Three friendlies against Croatia, the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland yielded two draws and one defeat. He found himself under pressure for beginning the World Cup qualifying campaign with a defeat in Macedonia before recording his first win as national boss in Iceland. A goalless stalemate with Norway at Hampden means the jury is still out, with Scotland facing an uphill struggle in their bid to qualify.
Diego Maradona was confirmed as Argentina head coach earlier this month when he replaced Alfio Basile, who stepped down from the role for personal reasons. The 48-year-old was given the job despite little coaching experience, having spent two months in charge of Deportivo Mandiyu in 1994 and four months at Racing Club the next year. He will work closely with former boss Carlos Bilardo but was involved in a dispute with the Argentina Football Association over his wish to appoint Oscar Ruggeri as his assistant.
Burley is boosted by the return of two key players for the visit of the South Americans - but has also endured numerous withdrawals again. Skipper Barry Ferguson will make his first appearance of the Burley era after recovering from ankle surgery, while Alan Hutton also returns from injury. Goalkeeper Craig Gordon, Kenny Miller, Darren Fletcher, Steven Fletcher, Ross McCormack and James Morrison are all out, paving the way for late call-ups for Lee Miller and Scott Robertson.
Argentina will be without star man Lionel Messi following an agreement between the AFA and Barcelona. Maradona also opted against calling Juan Roman Riquelme into his squad after Boca Juniors had appealed to the AFA to prevent Riquelme from travelling for the friendly as they battle with San Lorenzo for the league title. Liverpool's Javier Mascherano could wear the captain's armband, with Maradona keen for him to replace Javier Zanetti as his captain.
Scotland head into the game still searching for their first friendly win at Hampden since 1996 and keen to bounce back from the disappointment of a goalless draw against Norway at the same venue in a World Cup qualifier last month. With just one win from the campaign so far, a positive result against Argentina would bolster confidence ahead of a difficult visit to Holland in March.
Argentina hope the appointment of Maradona will act as a much-needed boost for the national team following a string of disappointing results. Just one win from their last seven World Cup qualifiers leaves them third in the South American zone, while, most recently, they slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Chile in a friendly last month.