SCOTLAND’S chances of reaching the knockout rounds of a major tournament for the first time in their history suffered a devastating blow on Monday when they lost 2-0 to the Czech Republic in their opening Euro 2020 game.

Two goals from Patrik Schick in each half, including a 50 yard wonder strike from just inside the opposition half in the second, killed off Steve Clarke’s side and the atmosphere inside Hampden.

But the national team’s hopes of progressing to the last 16 are far from over. The four best third placed teams in the six sections still go through. It remains an achievable objective.

All Scotland have to do now is get draws or wins against joint favourites England at Wembley on Friday and Russia 2018 finalists Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday. Simples!

It is a tall order. Andy Robertson and his team mates will have to perform better at the back, in midfield and up front than they did on Monday. Clarke will need to change his line-up and his tactics.

Here we have a look at five things that Clarke can try to turn around the country’s fortunes, defy the odds and secure their continued involvement past the group stages.




Losing Arsenal left back Kieran Tierney for the Czech game was the last thing that Clarke needed. The former Celtic defender has arguably been his best player this season despite playing at left centre half. He has been immense defensively and outstanding going forward.

Liam Cooper, the Leeds United captain who helped the Elland Road club finish ninth in the Premier League in the 2020/21 campaign, got the nod to play in his place. He did fine alongside Grant Hanley and Jack Hendry.

But getting Tierney, who picked up a slight niggle in training, back would be massive. Psychologically, it would give the entire squad a lift. And it would be a different game entirely with his defensive awareness and pace on the overlap.

A nation rejoiced when footage of the £25m 24-year-old taking part in a session with his fellow Scotland players at their training base in Darlington yesterday. His manager is unsure, but hopeful.

It takes a lot to keep the lad from Wishaw out of a game, any game, not just a big one, so hopefully he can recover enough to be considered for selection.




Clarke picked Ryan Christie and Lyndon Dykes up front in his 3-5-2 formation against the Czechs and both men contributed. Christie supplied Robertson with a gilt-edged chance that his skipper should perhaps have buried. Dykes contested more aerial duels in the opening 45 minutes than any other player in the tournament had in the previous games.

But Adams made a difference when he took over from Christie at the start of the second-half. Perhaps going two in front with 38 minutes remaining caused the visitors to sit back and protect their lead to an extent. But Scotland looked far more dangerous in the final third when he was involved.

A fair few members of the Tartan Army had not even heard of the Southampton forward when he was named in the squad for the Qatar 2022 qualifiers against Austria, Israel and the Faroe Islands. But the 24-year-old, who qualifies due to a maternal grandmother who hails from Edinburgh, quickly integrated into the set-up.

He was excellent against Austria and Israel and scored against the Faroes. He also netted what proved to be the winner in the final warm-up friendly against Luxembourg. He brings pace and creativity to his adopted homeland’s play in attack.

He will start against England at Wembley and Scotland will be better for his presence.




The midfield is the strongest area of the park for Scotland and nobody inside Hampden was complaining when they learned that Stuart Armstrong, John McGinn and Scott McTominay had been picked. They play for Southampton, Aston Villa and Manchester United respectively in the Premier League. Plus, they have excelled for the national team in the past.

But none of them was at their brilliant best. Clarke should freshen things up on Friday night. He certainly has options. Billy Gilmour of Chelsea and Callum McGregor of Celtic would be unfazed by the enormity of the occasion or the calibre of the opposition. The latter certainly dd well when he came on for Jack Hendry against the Czechs in the second-half.




It was understandable that Clarke went with the tried and tested against the Czechs on Monday.

Adams, Grant Hanley and Jack Hendry, the Celtic centre half who was brought back into the fray in March, were the only players who had not been involved in qualifying.

But there is, at the same time, much to be said for giving youngsters a chance. Even in an encounter with a side like England. They know no fear and bring enthusiasm and energy to a team.

The Scotland manager certainly has some outstanding kids in his 26-man squad. Could he pitch in Nathan Patterson of Rangers at right wing back. Or Gilmour in the centre of the park? They would be big gambles. But it would be worth it.




Gareth Southgate’s men showed why so many fans and pundits think they can win their first tournament since the 1966 World Cup on Sunday when they exacted revenge on Croatia for their Russia 2018 semi-final reverse.

Only a Raheem Sterling strike separated the two Group D rivals at the end of the 90 minutes. But it was an impressive opening display. They will grow in confidence as a result.

Southgate has such an embarrassment of riches at his disposal and could probably field his second choice side and still be confident of getting a win. They also have home advantage. The majority of the 25,000-strong crowd will be cheering them on.

Scotland have to hope that Harry Kane, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden and Kyle Walker have a bit of an off-night and David Marshall, Stephen O’Donnell, Scott McTominay and Grant Hanley are at their very best.