The first football match featuring England vs Scotland took place in 1872, making them the most long-standing of international rivals, a rivalry fuelled by centuries of off-field conflict and cultural differences. The yearly confrontation may have long fallen by the wayside, but England are still referred to as the “Auld Enemy” north of the border – and there’s little doubt that the supposed gulf in class between the English and Scottish squads will be narrowed by Scotland’s passion and commitment to inflict defeat on an England side that looks there for the taking.
It’s also a must-win match for Scotland if they are to keep their dreams of playing in the 2018 World Cup Finals alive and, whilst defeat would leave them 6 points behind England after just 4 games each, victory would draw them level.
It’s also a match that Scotland Manager Gordon Strachan may have to win to keep his job, though England Manager Gareth Southgate also has similar motivation as he bids to become the next permanent England Manager. However, whilst Southgate won some plaudits for being brave enough to drop Wayne Rooney, he finds himself feebly putting his trust in the Manchester United player once again.
It’s fair to say that neither side has exactly set the world alight so far in this qualifying campaign and, though England have won their last 10 home-qualifiers, it’s hard to see many punters risking their mortgages at odds of 2/5. The Three Lions have at least kept 3 clean-sheets so far, but Joe Hart had to be at his best against Slovenia last time to keep that record intact. More worrying is their failure in front of goal and, after a poor Euros 2016, a last-gasp goal against Slovakia and only two goals against Malta only dent confidence further.
Scotland have been the opposite of England so far in that they’ve been inconsistent. A 5-1 win over Malta shows what they can do given the chances, but a 1-1 draw against Lithuania and a 3-0 defeat against Slovakia highlight their frailties.
Recent games between the two sides don’t shed much light either, though it’s hard to believe it’s 20-years since Paul Gascoigne sent the Wembley crowd into raptures with his brilliant goal in England’s 2-0 win in the 1996 European Championship. Since then, England have scraped through 2-1 over two-legs in the 2000 World Cup Qualifiers, whilst recent friendlies have finished 3-1 and 3-2 to England.
A repeat of those entertaining friendlies would be appreciated, and there may be some value in backing England to win 3-1 ( 12/1 – click here ) or 3-2 ( 40/1 – click here ), especially as Scotland will surely try and win the game.
However, after the recent shocks of Brexit and Donald Trump, and the England cricket team even looking like they might win the first test match in India – Scotland to win at 9/1 (Click Here) is good enough for me.