Euro 2020 profile: Scotland, the ultimate underdogs

by | Jun 9, 2021 14:07

14 June – Czech Republic (2pm GMT, Hampden Park, Glasgow)

18 June – England (8pm GMT, Wembley, London)

22 June – Croatia (8pm GMT, Hampden Park, Glasgow)

Scotland arrive at the tournament with impressive individual qualities that could trouble any team if they are on their day, writes Kaustubh Pandey.

Ultimate underdogs

Steve Clarke’s Scotland will be up against the odds in Euro 2020, as they’ll come up against two World Cup semi-finalists. It would be fair to expect them to play on the counter-attack, but the team does have the quality that the opposition should be scared of.

Billy Gilmour and David Turnbull have earned call-ups to the 26-man squad, but they are all uncapped while the likes of Oli McBurnie, Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean are out of action with injuries.

Scotland finished third in their qualifying group but they qualified for the tournament via the UEFA Nations League, as they finished second in the group and beat Israel and Serbia on penalties. Clarke’s men scored every single penalty in the two shootouts during the qualifiers, which could bode well if Scotland make it to the knockout stages.

It’s unfortunate for Scotland that two of their best players both play in the same position. Left-backs Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson would each earn a place in the XI for most nations at Euro 2020 but Clarke has found a way of fitting them into the same team. Tierney usually plays on the left of the back three, with Robertson further forward.

Clarke has to decide if Manchester United’s Scott McTominay will be used in defence, where he has most often played for his country, or midfield, his regular club position. He was deployed in midfield in Scotland’s last pre-Euro 2020 friendly, a 1-0 win over Luxembourg, so that might be the answer.

Drawn in a difficult group, Scotland may still feel confident of qualifying from it. Games are always raised when Scotland play England and, on the day, there might not be much between Scotland and the Czech Republic. With favourable results elsewhere, qualification is within Scotland’s reach – if the spine of the side stays fit and finds its form quickly, and Che Adams can prove himself as an international goalscorer.

Coach: Steve Clarke – The former Kilmarnock boss has given Scotland an identity with his pragmatic approach to the game, which helped them beat Serbia on penalties to qualify for the tournament. The veteran has even managed in the Premier League with West Brom, the Championship at Reading and impressed in his homeland at Kilmarnock, having been assistant manager at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho and Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish.

Preferred XI: Marshall; McTominay, Hanley, Tierney; O’Donnell, McGregor, McGinn, McLean, Robertson; Dykes, Adams

Clarke generally prefers the 3-5-2 shape, but can often opt for a 3-4-3 depending on the quality of the opposition. Ryan Fraser’s fitness is a doubt and Scott McTominay can play in midfield, if Celtic’s Jack Hendry plays at centre-back.

Look out for: John McGinn has been a midfield dominator for Aston Villa and he has scored three times from midfield in Scotland’s last three competitive games, including a late overhead kick. He can be expected to carry his form on to the Euros and will be crucial to Scotland’s attacking aspirations, especially with a number of Celtic players having underperformed in the domestic circuit and coming into the tournament on the back of a disappointing season.

Scotland Euro 2020 squad:

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Heart of Midlothian), David Marshall (Derby County), Jon McLaughlin (Rangers)

Defenders: Nathan Patterson (Rangers), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Grant Hanley (Norwich City, Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Jack Hendry (KV Oostende)

Midfielders: Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), John McGinn (Aston Villa), John Fleck (Sheffield United), David Turnbull (Celtic)

Forwards: James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Christie (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Che Adams (Southampton), Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian)

Scotland versus…

Czech Republic P 9 W 4 D 1 L 4 F 11 A 10

England P 114 W 41 D 25 L 48 F

Croatia P 5 W 2 D 3 L 0 F 5 A 2

Stats

Population: 5.4m

Nickname: The Tartan Army

Top division: Scottish Premiership

FIFA World Ranking: 44

International honours: None

Most capped player: Kenny Dalglish (102)

Leading goalscorer: Kenny Dalglish/Denis Law (30)

Scotland at the European championships

1960: Did not enter

1964: Did not enter

1968: Did not qualify

1972: Did not qualify

1976: Did not qualify

1980: Did not qualify

1984: Did not qualify

1988: Did not qualify

1992: Group stage

1996: Group stage

2000: Did not qualify

2004: Did not qualify

2008: Did not qualify

2012: Did not qualify

2016: Did not qualify

How they got to Euro 2020: Scotland beat Serbia on penalties in the qualifying play-off

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