Games between England and Scotland are always tasty affairs and Saturday’s World Cup qualifying clash at Hampden Park will be no different.
The Scots will relish taking on the Auld Enemy especially after their 3-0 hiding at Wembley. A packed crowd will be baying for a victory hoping to inspire the team to great deeds. On paper, there should only be one winner, England.
The Scottish squad is made up of largely Championship players, while England has a side from the upper reaches of the Premier League.
But Hampden can be a bear pit and England will have to adjust. They must avoid getting spooked, try and take the sting out of the Scots, and deflate them with an early goal. Gordon Strachan’s side is fourth in Group F at the midway point of the qualifiers. With five games played and with a record of two wins, a draw and two defeats, Scotland, on seven points, trail group leaders England by six, Slovakia by two and Slovenia by a single point. The group winners go through to the finals while the best eight runners-up play in two-legged play-off matches.
Scotland is vulnerable in defence and less than prolific in attack. The days when they had great players like Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness are long gone. Former Scotland star Richard Gough admitted:
“It’s going to be a difficult game against England. They are better than us. We just have to hope we catch them on a bad day. “Eight out of ten times, I would imagine they would win the game. That’s just being realistic.
“In the days I was involved in these games, there was no inferiority. For these boys (in the current squad), if you are playing in the Championship and they are playing for Manchester United, there is a wee bit of something because you are not that used to playing against them. It was club team-mates of mine I was facing when I played against England.
“I’ve got a great picture at my home of the Scotland team from around that time. Steve Archibald is there, who was playing for Barcelona. Souness had just won the European Cup — for the third time. We had good players.”
Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who won the Premier League golden boot with 29 goals after a superb end to the domestic campaign, is set to lead the line for England. He commented:
“It is a massive game, everyone knows how big England versus Scotland is with the rivalry that we have. “We just want to go out there and do it again – we know it will be a bit tougher doing it away from home but with the team, we have got and the confidence we have got we know we just have to go out there and not get too caught up in the moment. “You have to be professional. Of course, it is going to be a passionate game but it’s about being calm and composed and sticking to the game plan. I feel we can do that.”
Should be a cracking occasion.