The most traditional duel of nations in football is getting a new chapter on the big EM stage. When England meets Scotland on Friday (9 p.m.) at London's Wembley Stadium, it will be the 115th duel between the two countries. The game was played for the first time in 1872, England have 48 wins, the Scots 41. This time the roles are clearly divided, Scotland is already fighting against elimination after the 2-0 defeat against the Czech Republic.
The first group game was a bitter disappointment for the Scots. They played some good chances against the supposedly easiest opponent, but could not use them and had to admit defeat. It was the first game for Scotland at a European Championship in 25 years. Still, the team were optimistic after the defeat: “It's important not to worry too much. We have to make it the hard way now,” said Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn at a press conference on Wednesday.
The English, on the other hand, got off to a successful start in the tournament, against runners-up world champions Croatia Raheem Sterling scored the decisive 1-0. Nevertheless, there was restraint, striker Marcus Rashford emphasized the peculiarity of the upcoming duel: “The atmosphere last time was unique, it will be a difficult game for us.” The Scots are an effective team, you have to get out of your comfort zone against them, added the Manchester United player.
Rashford warned of the opponent that he had good players who had already won a lot. He named his club mate Scott McTominay and Liverpool's Andrew Robertson by name. As a player, you would wait for those moments, the attacker said: “You want to play in the biggest games and these will be remembered for the rest of our careers.”
England will kneel on their knees ahead of this game too to take a stand against racism. Scotland has announced that it will take part in the protest this time, which Rashford welcomed: “If you want to get the big news out there is no better way than the big stage.” The English football association FA appealed to all fans on Thursday to respect the action. Previously there had been boos against kneeling down again and again.
The English defense chief Harry Maguire has registered for the game. “I feel good. I'm available again, I've trained and I'm looking forward to it,” said the Manchester United captain. The 28-year-old injured his ankle in the Premier League at the beginning of May and has not played a game since.
With the Scots, Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney is still in doubt, a deployment could only be decided at short notice. Otherwise the team is ready for action and highly motivated. McGinn paid tribute to the opponent, but also underlined his own ambitions: “They have superstars in the whole squad, so we're underdogs. But we have a few little superstars who can cause them problems. We can keep up.” Before the British duel, Scotland cannot be denied the hope of a surprise. A win would be the first against the “Auld Enemy” since 1999.