Euro 2020: Why wounded Scotland are a danger to Gareth Southgate's England

Ian Hart: I was lucky enough to be at Wembley on Sunday afternoon. Watching my national team with a limited capacity was a strange but ultimately, with the final result, a pleasurable experience.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 6:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 6:04 pm
Gareth Southgate got the big decisions right in England's opener against Croatia

Pre-match Gareth Southgate stuck his neck out with his team selection, Kieran Trippier getting the nod at left back, Declan Rice and Kalvin Philips in the middle, and the enigmatic Jack Grealish warming the bench.

Judging by some of the messages on my phone it certainly polarised opinion amongst fans, but ultimately the result vindicated the manager’s actions.

That said, at times it was just like watching the Albion. Lots of possession, attractive, attacking football but a tad sparse on the end product.

As it turned out, Raheem Sterling’s 57th minute strike, after a sublime through ball from man of the match Philips, was all that was needed.

Perhaps if Phil Foden’s early chance had gone in rather than rebound off the post, it might have been a different story. But a win is a win and the first ever in an opening England group game in the 61 year history of the European Championship.

Southgate (above) rightly states Sunday’s victory doesn’t guarantee qualification, there’s still two pivotal games remaining.

Scotland’s defeat by the Czech Republic on Monday afternoon, sets up an intriguing few days.

Football rivalry coupled with national pride is an unforgiving place. Within minutes of Scotland losing, the internet was awash with jokes and memes, a number of them concentrating on

Scot’s keeper David Marshall’s role in Patrik Schick’s 52nd minute ‘wonder strike’, the second of his brace.

All very amusing, when you’re not the butt of the jokes, but could it yet be a dangerous road for a section of the England football faithful?

We all know, whilst being the beautiful game, football can be both unpredictable and a very cruel mistress.

The game against Scotland is not a given, history tells us the England can disappoint when we least expect it, failing to beat Poland at home in 1973 right up to Iceland at the last Euros.

Anyone who thinks we just have to turn up to beat Scotland and qualify with a game to spare, is bordering on delusional.

Clearly England are superior to Scotland in every department, but it’s football and we all know anything can happen. As the aforementioned jokes and the memes were travelling across the ether even before Corrie started, part of me did think, surely this won’t come back to bite us on the backside?

Hopefully, it is still “coming home”, but how many can an annoying neighbour put a spanner in the works?