Lubomir Moravick reckons that Leigh Griffiths has become Scotland’s most important player – but he has insisted that the Hoops striker will be overshadowed by Slovakia’s Marek Hamsik.

The Napoli midfielder is the man whom Moravcik has identified as the best player who will be involved at Hampden tomorrow night as Gordon Strachan’s side seek to keep their slim World Cup hopes alive.

“Hamsík will be the top player on the pitch,” said Moravcik. “He is going to be very important to Slovakia. He can score goals with both feet and he can change games. At the start of the season he was only playing 60 minutes or so for Napoli, which I found very strange. But he scored in his last game and he is in good form.

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“He is absolutely the best player in Slovakia. Should Scotland man mark him? Football has changed, it’s more about space now rather than the individual. Even Messi does not get marked individually now. It’s more about closing the space, getting two or three players around him, because you don’t want to give away fouls.”

Moravcik fully expects that Slovakia will attack at Hampden on Thursday night as they seek to pip Scotland to the play-off spot.

However, he believes that set-pieces will be crucial to the outcome of the encounter with Griffiths in particular watched closely by the Slovaks following what he managed to do against Joe Hart at Hampden in June.

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“You don’t want to concede freekicks because they are the key to many games,” said Moravcik, himself no stranger to an eye-catching deadball effort in his day. “Just look at Leigh Griffiths against England. Slovakia must be very careful up to 25 yards from goal. The way he strikes freekick, the goalkeeper has no chance.

“I was invited over the season before when Leigh Griffiths was named the best player by the fans. He scored 40 goals and I watched them and I think he has a fantastic left foot. He can score from any position, left foot, right foot, even headers. He is a very clever player and I think Slovakia must be careful around him. I know he is totally on form.”

England are set to qualify at a canter but Moravcik believes that Gareth Southgate’s side have got lucky in the campaign.

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Scotland are still lamenting the late goal that cost them all three points against England at the end of last season and Moravcik has insisted that they have had the rub of the green throughout the entirety of the campaign.

The Slovak also believes that outwith Spurs striker Harry Kane there isn’t a player of outstanding quality within the Three Lions camp.

“Absolutely England have been lucky,” he said. “Imagine they didn’t score in stoppage time in Slovakia to win, that would be top points gone and the draw with Scotland lose, that would be three points less.

“They would be on 17-points and Slovakia and Scotland would be on 16. England would have Slovenia at home and Lithuania away, still having to qualify.

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“They are not a great team, they don’t have top players expect for Harry Kane. He could be a player for Real Madrid or Bayern Munich but he plays for Tottenham Hotspur and they are not going to win the Champions League, no chance, maybe not even last eight.

“England have players from Spurs, who are young and good but Wayne Rooney is gone now, and they don’t have top players for me.

“It can be hard to beat the small teams because you need top players, imagine Barcelona without Messi or PSG without Neymar.

“England have dominated in the group because they have been lucky.”

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Scotland’s recent displays may offer a note of cautious optimism but given the magnitude of the next two games, the pressure is on.

The intensity of every campaign goes up a notch with each major competition that passes Scotland by and it is that pressure that Moravcik expects can work in Slovakia’s favour this week.

“At Hampden there are 50,000 people, it’s a fantastic atmosphere and the Scottish fans will push the team,” he said. “But the pressure is hard, you have to be mentally very strong and wait for one good chance to score a goal and keep a clean sheet. It’s not an easy game for Scotland.

“For Slovakia it is easier than it is for Scotland. After Slovakia, Scotland must go to win in Slovenia, maybe if you bring a lot of pounds there you’ll get three points....!”

*Lubo Moravcik was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is a proud sponsor of the Scotland national team.