Heading into Euro 2020, Steve Clarke and Scotland know only eight of the 24-team field will be eliminated after the group stage. For Scotland, this is their first chance on the international stage in 23 years, but in their way stand three teams who have had no problem qualifying for major tournaments.
Scotland’s return to summer tournament football will bring them face-to-face with the Auld Enemy. The Three Lions are favourites to win their first major tournament since 1966, but English fans were put on edge after the national team looked lethargic in a tepid 1-0 win against Austria. In the latest Euro 2020 odds they sit alone at 4/1, ahead of European giants like Belgium, Spain and World Cup winners France – Gareth Southgate led England to a World Cup semi-final in 2018, but questions remain if they can beat those top international sides.
Despite a conservative squad selection and fears Southgate will play overly defensive football, this is an England side with more young attacking talent than it has had for years. Harry Kane enters the tournament coming off a third career Premier League Golden Boot award, and will once again be England’s main source of goals after top-scoring in Russia three years ago. Behind him, Southgate is spoilt for choice with the likes of Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho all starring for their clubs in the league this year.
Scotland play England at Wembley Stadium on Friday 18 June at 8pm.
Zlatko Dalić’s Croatia side have had mixed fortunes since their run to the World Cup Final in 2018. Consecutive disappointing Nations League campaigns have put Dalić in the hot seat, and his future could hinge on how Croatia perform this summer. With squad stalwarts Mario Mandžukić and Danijel Subašić retiring after that 4-2 loss to France in 2018, Ivan Rakitić’s sudden retirement last September puts further pressure on this Croatia side to find new talent.
That being said, Dalić still has big names to call on in his pursuit of a European title (30/1). Chief among those is Luka Modrić – the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner has been consistently excellent for Real Madrid even in his age-35 season and is the engine on which this Croatian team runs. Marcelo Brozović and Ivan Perišić, stars of the Inter Milan midfield that won Serie A for the first time in 11 years, also provide a constant goal threat.
Scotland welcome Croatia to Hampden Park on Tuesday 22 June at 8pm.
Seen by bookies as a distant threat at 125/1 to win the tournament, the Czech Republic finished bottom of their group at Euro 2016. This Czech side does boast some Premier League talent, however – central midfielder Tomáš Souček and right-back Vladimír Coufal have been massive parts of the West Ham revival that saw them earn Europa League football. Jakub Jankto offers creativity in midfield while manager Jaroslav Šilhavý will rely on Burnley’s Matěj Vydra up front.
Scotland open their Euro 2020 campaign against the Czech Republic on Monday 14 June at 2pm.
A third-place finish or higher would be enough for Scotland to make the knockout rounds. Can they do it against these three teams?