Scotland make their first appearance at a major competition since 1998 when they attempt to ruffle some feathers at this summer’s European Championships.
The Scots went the long way round in qualifying for Euro 2020 after finishing third in Group I behind table-toppers Belgium and second-placed Russia.
They overcame Israel and Serbia on penalties in the playoffs to end their 23-year wait for a place at a major competition, securing a spot in Group D alongside England, Croatia and Czech Republic.
Head coach Steve Clarke won’t be under a great deal of pressure to go deep in the competition. However, fans will be hopeful of reaching the knockout stages.
Scotland Back in the Big Time
There’s a whole generation of Scotland fans that have never had the privilege of watching their nation take to the field at a major competition.
Scotland finished bottom of their group at the 1998 World Cup in France, picking up just one point, while their last appearance at the Euros came in 1996 when they also exited at the group stage.
Interestingly, they were also drawn in a group with England during that campaign, losing 2-0 at sun-blessed Wembley as Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne registered.
They have only qualified for the Euros twice previously, failing to get out of their group on both occasions, so it’s understandable that they are priced at
200/1 to win the competition.
Tartan Army the Outsiders in Group D
Experience could be key when it comes to topping the table on June 22. England and Croatia both enjoyed strong campaigns at the 2018 World Cup, finishing fourth and second respectively.
It could be argued that Croatia’s ageing squad means they are vulnerable but England are fancied to go deep once again.
Scotland’s best chance of reaching the last-16 is likely to come via the third place route and could ride on putting in a performance against the Czech Republic in their opening match at Wembley on June 14.
They also have the advantage of playing on home turf against England in their second match with Hampden Park the venue on June 18.
McGinn Can Provide Magic
One of Scotland’s major problems over the past decade has been putting the ball in the back of the net on a consistent basis.
The lack of a regular goalscorer has been hugely detrimental but in Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn, they may just have found the man to guide them to success.
McGinn was Scotland’s topscorer during the qualifying process, netting on seven occasions and after a spell out with injury last season, has been one of Villa’s biggest threats in 2020-21.
Clarke will have everything crossed in the hope of keeping McGinn fit ahead of the tournament due to his ability to pull the strings, score goals and inspire his side.
*All odds correct at time of writing.