11 September 2023

The key talking points ahead of Scotland v England at Hampden Park

11 September 2023

Scotland host England in the 116th edition of international football’s oldest fixture on Tuesday.

Ahead of the old foes going toe-to-toe at Hampden Park, the PA news agency picks out some of the talking points.

History in the making

The game has been billed as the 150th Anniversary Heritage Match, to commemorate the advent of international football on November 30, 1872. At the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Partick, a Scotland team exclusively made up of Queen’s Park players drew 0-0 with England, whose biggest contingent came from Oxford University. Other clubs represented were Notts County, Sheffield Wednesday, Cambridge University, the 1st Surrey Rifles and the now defunct Hertfordshire Rangers, Barnes and Harrow Chequers. Scotland’s passing game and the English tactic of running with the ball cancelled each other out in front of several thousand supporters.

Scotland bid to close the gap

England only lead 48-41 in the 116 meetings between the nations but Scottish wins, as well as the encounters themselves, have become scarcer in recent years. Scotland’s last home win came in the 1985 Rous Cup when Richard Gough headed the only goal, and their most recent victory was a bitter-sweet victory in 1999 when Don Hutchison headed a Wembley winner but England went through to Euro 2000 with a 2-1 play-off aggregate win. England have not lost in the past five meetings but the most recent two games were draws.

Attention elsewhere for Scotland fans

For probably the first time in the century-and-a-half of the fixture, many Scotland fans will be more concerned with a result elsewhere than what happens at Hampden. Scotland will become the first team to qualify for Euro 2024 if Norway and Georgia draw in Oslo. While the Scotland players will be focused on the task at hand, there might be some roars and celebrations from the home fans regardless of the situation in front of them.

Southgate balances progress with performance

England head to Hampden Park on the back of a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Ukraine in front of a partisan crowd in Poland. Gareth Southgate called it a good test in a hostile environment, just as he expects in Mount Florida on Tuesday night. This is England’s first friendly match since March 2022, after a run of 16 competitive matches taking in last year’s Nations League and World Cup before Euro 2024 qualification got under way. But do not expect too many changes as Southgate says it would be “ridiculous” to overly experiment against high-flying Scotland. “We’ve got to find the right balance of physical freshness – we’ve had a day less preparation – experience, finding out about some players, winning, playing well,” he said.

Southgate to give Colwill debut?

England’s development under Southgate has been impressive since he took charge in challenging circumstances in 2016, but there are plenty of questions to answer as next summer’s Euros come into view. Key among them is what to do at centre-back, given trusted lieutenant Harry Maguire’s lack of form and game time at Manchester United. Saturday’s match against Ukraine was his first start for club or country of the season, with Southgate seeing his experience as vital alongside Marc Guehi given John Stones and Tyrone Mings are out injured. Fikayo Tomori and Lewis Dunk are other centre-back options in the squad if Southgate wants to change things up against Scotland, as is uncapped Levi Colwill. The 20-year-old flourished on loan at Brighton and impressed since getting his chance at Chelsea this term. This would be a big occasion to make his debut but a great test for a player some have tipped to be a starter come Germany.

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