England and Scotland Set to Clash in the “Battle of Britain”
England and Scotland meet in the Euros on Friday in the “Battle of Britain”. A point should be enough to see England through to the knock-out round. For Scotland, their hopes of progression are hanging by a thread, but what better way of keeping their Euro dreams alive by beating the Auld Enemy?
Ever since the draw for the delayed Euro 2020 competition was made, the fixture that stood out was the enticing clash between the home nations of England and Scotland. Since 1872 the two nations have clashed, the oldest fixture in world football.
England won their first game, Scotland lost theirs, so an already important clash has become vital, especially for the Tartan Army.
It’s not surprising that England is heavy favourites for this clash. They have home advantage, arguably better quality in their squad, and the majority of their players play alongside some of the best players in the world at domestic level.
The England players are also much more experienced at international level. Scotland players have a grand total of zero appearances at a major international tournament, whereas several of the England squad competed in the last World Cup in 2018 in Russia. The Scotland squad is the most inexperienced team in the tournament, with an average of 18.5 caps per player. However, it’s worth pointing out that this youthful England side is not that far ahead, averaging 20.8 caps per player, making them the fourth most inexperienced team.
At club level, the differences are starker.
Although the Three Lions have one of the youngest sides at Euro 2020 and, indeed, one of the youngest sides ever to feature in the competition’s history, they have a wealth of experience in the Premier League. England players have 3,327 Premier League appearances between them; this equates to 127.96 per player in the 26 man squad.
Scotland has 968, which equates to just 37.23 per player in the Scotland squad. However, even this figure is somewhat distorted. For example, if you deduct Andy Robertson’s 189 Premier League games, the figure drops to 29.96. However, there is, of course, the argument that many of the Scotland squad play in their domestic league, which is a fair point.
Goals win games, and it’s probably no surprise that England has the advantage when it comes to top-flight goals. Harry Kane on 166 has almost four times the number of goals that Scotland’s James Forrest on 61 has scored. England’s Raheem Sterling is the Three Lions second top scorer, but even he has almost double the number of his counterpart Stuart Armstrong (53) has scored, although Ryan Christie is close behind Armstrong on 47. England’s supporting cast also looks strong, with Marcus Rashford (55), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (39), and Jadon Sancho (37), to name just a few.
At International level, the gulf is even bigger. John McGinn is the only Scottish player with 10 to have double digits. England has Harry Kane on 42, Raheem Sterling on 14 and Marcus Rashford on 12.
Selected anytime scorer odds: Harry Kane 8/11, Dominic Calvert-Lewin 1/1, Marcus Rashford 7/4, Che Adams 15/4, Kevin Nisbet 5/1, Lyndon Dykes 5/1.
While all these stats point to an England win, it would be incredibly foolish to write off the Scots, and England fans are unlikely to be supremely confident.
The Tartan Army have waited a long time to feature in a major tournament, and they know a win would keep their Euro journey alive. The prospect of beating their biggest rivals on their own turf is an added incentive.
Despite the apparent gulf in class between the two sides, the head-to-head record between the two is close. England has won 48 games, Scotland 41 with 41 draws between them. Whatever happens, this is likely to be a game that is talked about for years.
England v Scotland kicks off at 20:00 on Friday. Coverage is on ITV and starts at 19:00.