what you need to know about Scotland

what you need to know about Scotland
what you need to know about Scotland

The qualifying course and the group

After waiting 25 years (from 1996 to 2021) to replay the European Championship, Scotland will enjoy international joy again this summer for the second consecutive time in Germany. Steve Clarke’s team will also have the chance to play the opening match against the Mannschaft on June 14 at the Allianz Arena in Munich. In addition to the Germans of Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz, Scotland will have to get rid of Switzerland and Hungary, supposed to be a cut above, to qualify for the round of 16. Authors of a disappointing Euro 2020, the Scots were unable to take advantage of the two home matches, at Hampden Park, to put on a good competition. Even if they had consoled themselves with a draw against England (0-0), Andrew Robertson’s teammates had finished last in their group. This year, the Tartan Army will want to do better and why not, pass the group stage for the first time in its history. They arrive in Germany with better references and a fairly remarkable qualification path. In a group with Spain, Norway of Erling Haaland and Martin Ødegaard or even Georgia of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Scotland did not necessarily have the advantage to qualify for the final phase. However, Scott McTominay’s teammates have long stood alone in Group A during these qualifiers, in which they were the surprise.

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A year ago, the Scots were walking on water with convincing victories over Cyprus (twice 3-0), over Georgia (2-0), but also against Norway (1-2) and Spain (2-0). Scotland booked their ticket to Germany at the expense of third-placed Norway. La Roja then had their revenge during the return match last fall, but not without difficulty, with a success which only emerged at the end of the game. However, the good Scottish momentum stopped at that point. For several months, Steve Clarke’s team has no longer been able to do it. From September, the residents of Hampden Park are on a series of 7 matches without a victory. Against England (1-3), Spain (2-0), France (4-1) and recently the Netherlands (4-0), the defeats were logical, against stronger opponents. But the disappointment at home against neighbors Northern Ireland (0-1) is more worrying. It was only the second defeat in their history against them. It remains to be seen what face Scotland will be able to offer in Germany.

To read
Euro 2024, Scotland: provisional list extended to 28 players announced

Qualities and weaknesses

The 39th team in the FIFA rankings will be an outsider who has many qualities. Scotland’s defense, made up of 5 elements such as Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad), Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq) and Andy Robertson (Liverpool), can put teams who like to have the ball in difficulty. Spain and its passing game had considerable difficulty finding the fault against this well-oiled and interchangeable defense. At the end of the first leg against the Spaniards, Rodri railed about the Scots’ play: “ it’s their way of playing, you have to respect it, but frankly, it’s a bit disgusting “. But by defending low, it works, the Tartan Army is valiant and its defense has only conceded one goal (on a Haaland penalty) in their first five matches of the elimination phase. It is also this ability to be able to change these men which makes this team more malleable. The defenders can alternate, while the defensive structure remains the same. The Scots are also starting to have experience, with players who know each other well. Under the leadership of Steve Clarke since 2019, the selection was first rejuvenated, leaving the generation of Darren Fletcher, Scott Brown and James Morrison behind it, before being, now, a confirmed nation and in the strength of the age.

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Where Scotland remains very imperfect is when they have the ball and have the game under their belt. During the defeat against Northern Ireland on May 26, the Scots had more than 80% possession and never managed to score against a modest team. Nothing to worry about Steve Clarke, the coach of this selection. “ It’s been a long time since we had this much possession. I would be very surprised if we had a match like this in the finals this summer “, he declared following this disappointment. If against Germany, Switzerland and Hungary, the Scots risk seeing little of the ball, their game will be better. In attack, the Scots have not yet found the miracle recipe. Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers) and Che Adams (Southampton FC) alternate at number 9 without any real success. The first has only scored one goal with his selection since 2023, while the second has not scored for two years in the selection. Lyndon Dykes appears to have a small lead over the other Championship player despite Che Adams’ better form at club.

The coach: Steve Clarke

It was a real gamble on the part of the SFA (Scottish Football Association) to appoint Steve Clarke as head of the Scottish team, but the decision paid off. Rather accustomed to supporting roles like at Chelsea, Liverpool or Aston Villa, he stood out in his country as head coach of Kilmarnock in the Scottish D1 (40 victories in 79 matches). The Tartan Army is his first high-pressure position, which he has managed so far. Coach since 2019, Steve Clarke gave Scotland their first qualification for an international competition in 23 years and the 1998 World Cup in France. With a brilliant qualifying phase in recent months, he once again succeeded in qualifying his team for the Euro this summer thanks to a strong collective identity. Extended until 2026 and the next World Cup, which an entire people wants to compete in, Steve Clarke has the support of his entire group. Andy Robertson is full of praise for him: “I think Scottish fans embraced the gaffer from day one. Yes, we went through difficult times, but he made huge improvements to the team, huge improvements behind the scenes as well.”. The coach managed to convince Angus Gunn to join his Scottish team, he who had already received a call-up for England. Even if the Norwich City goalkeeper has alternated between good and bad in recent months, Steve Clarke trusts him to guard his team’s goal. On the field, the coach of the Tartan Army has his relay in the person of Andy Robertson, the captain and star of this team.

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The star: Andy Robertson

The squad’s best track record with, among others, a Premier League (2020) and a Champions League (2019), captain Andrew Robertson has the international experience that this Scottish team lacked. In the group for 10 years now, the Liverpool player is the player in the selection with the most caps (69), he has experienced almost everything with Scotland: weak moments until these two consecutive qualifications for the Euro. Although it is clear that an international trophy is a dream, making a run in a competition with Scotland can be a goal. Through his experience and his role in the locker room, the left-back is an essential part of Steve Clarke’s system. In addition to being his main relay on the field, he is one of the technical leaders of this team. Even if he is only a left piston, he remains one of the main offensive dangers, with eight assists since 2022 with his selection, alongside John McGinn (Aston Villa) and especially Scott McTominay (Manchester United), the new Scottish serial scorer.

The attraction: Scott McTominay

The attraction of this Scottish team could have, but above all should have been Lewis Ferguson. The captain of Thiago Motta’s Bologna was having an excellent season in Italy before suffering a serious injury a month ago. With a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee, the midfielder has withdrawn for the rest of the season. The player to watch closely for Scotland will therefore be Scott McTominay. The Manchester United midfielder is well known and is the other star of the Tartan Army alongside Andrew Robertson. The one who could have played with England, but who chose Scotland thanks to his father from Helensburgh in the west of the region, has been transformed into a selection for a year. The big midfielder has a string of goals and great performances. During qualifying, he scored 7 goals in 8 matches for Scotland, becoming the fifth highest scorer in the qualifiers behind Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé and Harry Kane. Very good statistics, especially when we know that Scott McTominay only had one goal for the selection before 2023. Steve Clarke has built his squad around him, who is the central element of the Scottish playing project. A true Swiss army knife of this team, he has played in defense several times in recent years, but it is in the heart of the game that he is now installed in this team. Regularly associated with Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor, he has the difficult task of building or finishing Scottish chances which can be rare. At 27, the Euro in Germany will certainly constitute one of the main highlights of his career for him.

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Scotland’s calendar

  • Germany – Scotland: Friday June 14 at 9 p.m. at the Allianz Arena in Munich

  • Scotland – Switzerland: Wednesday June 19 at 9 p.m. at the RheinEnergiStadion in Cologne

  • Scotland – Hungary: Sunday June 23 at 9 p.m. at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart

The list of 28 players:

Guardians: Zander Clark (Heart of Midlothian FC), Craig Gordon (Heart of Midlothian FC), Angus Gunn (Norwich City) and Liam Kelly (Motherwell FC)

Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq FC), Ross McCrorie (Bristol City), Scott McKenna (FC Copenhagen), Ryan Porteous (Watford FC), Anthony Ralston (Celtic Football Club ), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Rangers Football Club), Greg Taylor (Celtic Football Club) and Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad)

Environments : Stuart Armstrong (Southampton FC), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Billy Gilmour (Brighton), Ryan Jack (Rangers FC), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic FC), Kenny McLean (Norwich City) and Scott McTominay ( Manchester United)

Attackers: Ché Adams (Southampton), Ben Doak (Liverpool), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), James Forrest (Celtic Football Club) and Lawrence Shankland (Heart of Midlothian FC).

Pub. THE 05/23/2024 8:00 p.m.
Update 05/23/2024 8:01 p.m.

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