Soccer

The main talking points ahead of Scotland’s Euro 2024 clash with Germany

Steve Clarke’s side are looking to progress from the group stage at a major tournament for the first time.

Could Anthony Ralston get the nod against Germany?
Could Anthony Ralston get the nod against Germany? (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scotland take on Germany in the Euro 2024 opener in Munich on Friday night.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the talking points ahead of the keenly-awaited Group A fixture.

A case for the defence

Steve Clarke faces a number of tough decisions
Steve Clarke faces a number of tough decisions (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Steve Clarke is likely to play a back-three/back-five with left-sided central defender Kieran Tierney certain to start. Clarke will likely choose between Ryan Porteous, Jack Hendry and Grant Hanley for his two partners and it could well be the former two who get the nod. Captain Andrew Robertson will  be left wing-back and with right wing-backs Nathan Patterson and Aaron Hickey left behind through injury, Anthony Ralston could edge out Ross McCrorie on the other side of the pitch, although attacking opportunities could be limited.

Midfield pints into a quart pot

Scotland’s Scott McTominay (left) and John McGinn
Scotland’s Scott McTominay (left) and John McGinn (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Clarke’s biggest dilemma is probably in midfield, the strongest part of his squad. John McGinn, Scott McTominay and Callum McGregor are all but certain to start. If the Scotland boss plays a box midfield, who joins them? Billy Gilmour is more defensively-minded and could partner McGregor in front of the defence leaving McTominay and McGinn further forward. However, Clarke could tweak his formation to allow Ryan Christie to be chief support to the lone striker, likely to be Che Adams. Kenny McLean and Stuart Armstrong can also be hopeful of contributing at some stage of the game.

Group prospects

Scotland have never qualified out of a group at a major finals.  Aside from taking on the host country, Clarke’s side face Switzerland and Hungary and neither of them come with the promise of three points. One win could be enough to take Scotland into the knockout stages, while four points would surely guarantee that landmark feat. Goal difference could come into consideration so if the Scots are to fail to beat Germany then the narrowest of defeats is preferred.

Head-to-head record

Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany have never lost a competitive international against Scotland
Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany have never lost a competitive international against Scotland (John Walton/PA)

Scotland have never beaten Germany in a competitive game. In 17 meetings the Scots have won four and drawn five. Scotland first met Germany in 1929 when they drew 1-1 in a friendly in Berlin. The last Scotland victory over Germany was a 1-0 friendly win in 1999, with Don Hutchison scoring the winner. Germany have won the last three meetings, the last being a 3-2 win in a European Championship qualifier at Hampden Park in 2015.

Tartan Army on its travels

Scotland fans will travel abroad to a major competition for the first time since the 1998 World Cup in France. Tens of thousands of Tartan Army are flooding into Germany and most of them do not have tickets for the games. Clarke and his squad are aware of the feel-good factor which is surrounding both this fixture and the tournament and, while there is realism about the task against the Germans, there is pressure to put in a positive performance on Friday night.