England will be one of the leading contenders for the European Championships this summer due to the immense quality Gareth Southgate has at his disposal. However, it’s not the first time the Three Lions have been heralded as one of the pre-tournament favorites for a major competition. England have failed to triumph on the grand stage since winning the 1966 World Cup, enduring a number of anguishing defeats.
There has always been a team that have played their best football against the Three Lions when it has mattered the most or the men in white have crumbled under the pressure of a penalty shootout. Southgate will have a worrying look ahead to the schedule to see Scotland on the agenda in England’s second group game.
The Scots will realistically not harbor ambitions of winning the Euros, but denying England in their best chance to win a major competition for a generation will provide plenty of motivation. Steve Clarke and his men can look no further than their national rugby side for proof that it can be done, as the Scots stunned the Red Rose at Twickenham to claim their first win on English soil in 38 years. Scotland are now backed at 4/1 in the 2021 Six Nations odds to take the title for the first time since 1999. England’s plans to win the competition are now in ruins.
Eddie Jones and Southgate have conversed in the past, and the head coach of England’s national rugby team may be on hand to his counterpart in the world of football to advise him to not overlook Scotland. It would not be prudent for the Three Lions to take a victory over the Scots for granted. In their last meeting, two late goals from Leigh Griffiths appeared to have given Scotland a stunning win over their rivals at Hampden Park. However, Harry Kane found the net in stoppage time to earn England a share of the spoils in their 2018 World Cup qualifying clash.
In the time since, Scotland have taken serious strides under the management of Clarke compared to his predecessor Strachan. There’s a strong team spirit that allowed them to beat both Israel and Serbia in penalty shootouts to advance to their first major competition since the 1998 World Cup. England are not so much a formidable team they can look past any opponent, especially considering their opener in the Euros is against their 2018 World Cup semi-final conquerors Croatia. Depending on the result of that contest, Southgate and his men could be under huge pressure to save their tournament.
England will have memories of their embarrassing defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016. That contest was a perceived lay-up for the Three Lions and the stunning loss not only cost England their place in the competition but also ruined the international careers of many of the players that started that evening in France.
England have not been beaten by Scotland since 1999 when they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Wembley in a Euro 2000 playoff contest. There will be a hunger from Clarke and his men to end that drought, and although they do not possess the quality of the Three Lions, in a one-off game anything can happen – as the Scots under Gregor Townsend proved at Twickenham. England have a lot more to lose in their showdown and the Six Nations result could be the start of a trend where Scotland hit back at their rivals after years of struggle.