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Talking points as Scotland end their 23-year absence from the big stage

By June 13, 2021No Comments

Scotland kick off their European Championship campaign against the Czech Republic on Monday.

Steve Clarke’s men are looking for a third victory against the Czechs this season after beating them twice in the UEFA Nations League, although their opponents pipped them to top spot and promotion.

Here are some talking points ahead of the Group D clash in Glasgow.

Back in the big time

Scotland could usually be relied on to regularly reach major tournaments, especially World Cups, during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Then the summer jaunts dried up completely. Several generations of Scots are set to discover the buzz of seeing their country competing with the best as their national team ends its 23-year absence from the big stage.

The Hampden Roar returns

Talking points as Scotland end their 23-year absence from the big stage PLZ Soccer
Leigh Griffiths celebrates netting against England in a famous Hampden encounter in 2018 (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Glasgow ground holds all the major attendance records for European football and will do forever more. It has staged two classic European Cup finals involving Real Madrid and dramatic domestic encounters as well as some famous nights of international football. It has also been empty for most of the past year and a half and it is fitting that supporters, around 12,000 of them, will return for the first major international tournament game at the famous old ground.

Selection dilemmas

Talking points as Scotland end their 23-year absence from the big stage PLZ Soccer
Will Ryan Fraser, left, and Che Adams get the nod? (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Clarke faces some tough decisions. Centre-backs Declan Gallagher, Grant Hanley, Jack Hendry, Scott McKenna and Liam Cooper have all done well for him at times but there are not two obvious choices to join Kieran Tierney in the back three. Clarke will also have to choose whether to go with two centre-forwards or pair either Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams with an attacking midfielder such as Ryan Christie or Ryan Fraser.

Young guns going for it

Talking points as Scotland end their 23-year absence from the big stage PLZ Soccer
Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour is aiming for action (Nick Potts/PA)

Clarke injected some fresh enthusiasm in his squad by calling up Rangers right-back Nathan Patterson and midfielders Billy Gilmour and David Turnbull when squads were expanded to 26 players. All three made promising first appearances in the warm-up games while Hibernian forward Kevin Nisbet netted moments after coming on for his second cap against Holland in the warm-up games. All four will feel they have a good chance of being involved during the tournament, although they might have to start on the bench against the Czechs.

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