Perennial rivals lock horns
Friday, June 18th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
Scotland’s return to the major tournament stage may be off to a slow start, but a visit to Wembley to face England offers Steve Clarke’s men the chance to writes themselves into folklore for generations to come.
A 2-0 defeat by the Czech Republic at Hampden on Monday leaves Scotland realistically needing to avoid defeat against the Three Lions to maintain hopes of making it out of the group stage for the first time.
On paper there appears a gulf in class for Clarke’s side to bridge against the side ranked fourth in the world, who harbour ambitions of conquering Europe for the first time.
But no game means more to Scotland than beating the old enemy.
The Scottish sides of 1967 and 1977 are still fondly remembered for victories at Wembley in the old British Home Championship.
Doing so at their first major tournament for 23 years would make the Scottish players legends back home.
“The English media would have you believe the gap is humongous,” said Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn on Wednesday. “It’s up to us on Friday to prove that wrong.”
McGinn is one of a batch of proven Premier League players in Clarke’s squad that have helped guide Scotland back from the wilderness in international football.
Andy Robertson has won the Champions League and Premier League at Liverpool, Scott McTominay has established himself as a regular at Manchester United and there are hopes Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney could be fit to return from injury.
“We’ve got a population of five million, they’ve got a population of 55 million,” added McGinn.
“They’ve got worldwide superstars throughout their team so we’re always going to be underdogs, but we’ve got a few wee superstars ourselves.”
In total 14 of the 26-man Scotland squad ply their trade in England.
Rather than be starstruck by their more illustrious opponents, McGinn believes many of the Scottish team have already proven they can go toe-to-toe with the best England has to offer.
“We compete against the majority of these guys week in, week out and we seem to hold our own,” added the 26-year-old.- AFP