SCOTLAND qualified for Euro 2020 by the narrowest of margins with a penalty shoot-out win over Serbia in the play-offs, but Steve Clarke will consider that ancient history now as his side gear up for their first major tournament appearance since 1998.
Placed in a robust Group D with England and World Cup runners-up Croatia, Scotland are 2/1 to win their opening game against the Czech Republic. England sit as 4/5 favourites in their opener at Wembley, while the Wales v Switzerland odds put Robert Page’s side out at 5/2 as they look to replicate their semi-final run at Euro 2016.
Bookies are hesitant on Scotland’s chances overall, with the tough group stage opponents contributing to a price of 200/1 to win the tournament. For top goalscorer, the most likely Scottish candidates for the Golden Boot are John McGinn and Ryan Christie, both at 200/1, with Lyndon Dykes out at 250/1.
Much of Scotland’s outlook at the tournament will depend on that opening group game against the Czechs at Hampden Park on June 14. If Steve Clarke’s side win that match, a point from their remaining two group fixtures would likely be enough to see them through as a best third-place finisher. Follow up a win in Glasgow with an upset against the Auld Enemy at Wembley, however, and Scotland could start looking at a place in the round of 16.
Will Fans Be in Attendance?
Qualifying for the first European Championships in 25 years was perfectly timed for the national squad. Hampden Park will host three group games, two featuring Scotland, plus a round of 16 games where the winners of Group E – most likely Spain – will face a third-place finisher.
With Hampden allowing around 12,000 fans into the stadium, the potential is there for a party atmosphere on Scotland’s return to major tournament competitions.
Who’s on the Bus?
Ryan Christie’s goal to open the scoring for Celtic was something special! 😱
“One of the best goals I’ve seen in a long time.” 🔥
“Absolutely sensational finish from Ryan Christie.” 🗣 pic.twitter.com/bWz0TrOukE
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) November 1, 2020
With domestic seasons winding down, it’s believed Clarke has largely made up his mind ahead of the summer’s tournament. The former Kilmarnock and West Brom boss has 26 slots to choose from after UEFA expanded the squad limit, allowing him a little more flexibility.
Clarke has a number of players he relies on in any given scenario, players who can be considered certain inclusions. From a Celtic perspective that includes Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor, who have 16 league assists between them. Twenty-one-year-old David Turnbull is also included after being named PFA Young Player of the Year.
Among Clarke’s trusted gang are Premier League stand-outs Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney, John McGinn, and Scott McTominay. Che Adams will compete for the lone striker role with Lyndon Dykes, unless Clarke opts for the 3-5-2 formation that downed the Faroe Islands 4-0 in March. Craig Gordon, David Marshall, and Jon McLaughlin will fight it out for the gloves with the Derby star in pole position, despite missing the club’s dramatic last-day escape to beat relegation.
But it could be the likes of Turnbull or Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour who could give this Scotland side an edge of unpredictability. likewise, James Forrest has had a tough campaign with injury, but has been given the nod based on his track record, as Scotland look to leave their mark on their first major tournament this century.