Replays of Gazza’s Euro 1996 volley on repeat? It must be England v Scotland.
The most anticipated game of Euro 2020 so far takes place at Wembley on Friday as Scotland make the short trip down to London to play the ‘Auld Enemy’ at Wembley, 149 years since the sides faced-off in the first ever international game.
Ever since the draw was made all those months ago, this match has been talked about on both sides of the border.
Whilst it will almost always been seen as a much bigger deal north of Hadrian’s Wall, England will be desperate to make it two wins from two in Group D and likely book their place in the last 16.
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Recent meetings between Scotland and England have been entertaining affairs, the latter needing a 93rd minute equaliser in 2017 to avoid defeat at Hampden Park after Leigh Griffiths had turned the match on it’s head with two stunning late free-kick goals.
Though a win at Wembley would banish memories of that painful ending, it’s hard to see past Gareth Southgate’s men winning here even when the emotion is taken out of the game.
The Croatia performance will have pleased the manager and all of an England persuasion, the team nullifying the threat of their opponents well and perhaps finding themselves unlucky not to have won by a bigger margin after some early pressure on the Croat goal.
A repeat of such dominance (in midfield especially), fluidity and confidence across the park should see England come out on top, although I don’t think it will be as convincing as some may think and/or want.
Scotland will make this as awkward as possible and may well have chances of their own – even if a repeat of the 19 shots on goal against Czech Republic looks near impossible. In that defeat, it was the lack of clinical finishing which cost the Scots and a decision not to start Che Adams looking an ever baffling one given how he has started his national team career.
However, the flow of the game won’t be as end-to-end as the Czech encounter was, with Scotland unlikely to see much of the ball to exert enough pressure on the England goal.
Rather than getting sucked in therefore, and given the unpredictable nature of this fixture, I’ll stick to a straightforward ‘England to win’ as the first part of this bet builder.
Whilst we don’t know if England will rotate in terms of personnel, Scotland will have a lot of work to do off the ball no matter who lines up for the opposition. My second selection will therefore be Scott McTominay to win over 1.5 tackles in the match.
The Manchester United midfielder will be up against plenty of familiar faces on Friday and he has shown this season, in a consistent run in his club side, that he’s not afraid to get stuck in to the tackle. McTominay has won 2 or more tackles in his last 3 competitive Scotland games and I like his chances of making it four out of four here considering Scotland have won 20 as a collective in their last two meetings with England.
The final part of the bet builder is Scotland to pick up over 0 cards. Whilst it’s tempting to go over 1 given the magnitude of the game, how much it means to Scotland as a nation and the referee being Antonio Lahoz, but we’ve seen plenty of caution in this tournament from referees and not much cynicism in the form of fouls from the players.
Scotland only conceded 6 fouls on matchday one against the Czech Republic and Lahoz tends to officiate the big occasions (the Champions League final by example) with more pragmatism than the standard La Liga games he takes charge of, but I’d still expect at least one man in blue to pick up a card along the way.
13 of England’s last 14 opponents have found their way in to the referee’s notebook but 1 has been a common number, so we’ll add over 0 to the bet which still comes out at odds of 8/5.
2.5 Units – England to Win; Scott McTominay Over 1.5 Tackles & Scotland Over 0 Cards