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England and Scotland join battle for local bragging rights and Euro 2020 glory

·3-min read

Football’s oldest rivalry gets an international tournament airing on Friday night when England play Scotland at Wembley in their second Group F game at Euro 2020.

The sides first met in 1872 at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow. And then after a decade of friendlies, they played annually - barring world wars - in the British Home Championship up until 1984. For another five years the teams contested the Rous Cup.

Nearly 150 years since that initial fixture, the teams go into battle for the 115th time. England have been victorious on 48 occasions. The Scots have claimed 41 of the encounters and there have been 25 draws.

Historical vignettes aside, modern mundanities demand a Scotland triumph to relaunch their Euro 2020 campaign after their 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic at Hampden Park on 14 June.

Stakes

For England, who beat Croatia 1-0 in their opening game, a win would propel them into the last 16 knockout stages while a draw would maintain the suspense within the pool until the final round of games on 22 June.

“I think Friday night is going to be a tough game,” said England skipper Harry Kane.

“There has been a lot of build-up around it but it’s our second game in a major tournament and our focus is to try and win and make sure we qualify as soon as possible.”

Kane will captain England for the 34th time. The outing will move him level with Alan Shearer and John Terry in sixth place on the all-time list.

His first adventure as skipper came in a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Hampden Park in June 2017.

Changes

His stoppage-time strike denied the hosts victory. “It was a special occasion for me, being my first game as captain, so it’s a highlight I can still remember,” said Kane.

Just over four years on from that 2-2 draw, Scotland, unlike England, have a different man in charge. Steve Clarke took over in the spring of 2019 from Alex McLeish and guided Scotland to Euro 2020 qualification via the play-offs, where they defeated Israel and Serbia in penalty shoot-outs.

Clarke, who is trying to lead a Scotland side to the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time, acknowledged the enormity of the task in their two remaining games.

“We need four points and obviously we have to get something from the game against England,” he said.

“It’s a historic game of football. It goes back a long way and means a lot. People say it doesn't mean a lot to the English, but having worked in England I know it means a lot to the English. They don’t want to lose to Scotland.”

A Scottish win, coupled with a Croatian victory over the Czechs, would spice up the implications for the final round of Group F games on 22 June when Scotland entertain Croatia at Hampden Park and England face the Czech Republic at Wembley.

A plethora of permutations to dazzle the neutrals and frazzle the partisans.

But before those intricacies, one more for the history books.

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