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Euro 2020: Memories of Days Gone By the Only Glimmer for Scotland


Euro 2020: Memories of Days Gone By the Only Glimmer for Scotland

 Russia vs Scotland

With the realisation dawning that Euro 2020 is suddenly only next summer, my memory was quickly drawn to international outfits of years gone by.

Talk of quality and the question why does Scotland simply not produce top quality players anymore?

That debate should be for another article but certainly, the eras of Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Jimmy Johnstone, Davie Cooper and Ally McCoist, to name just six who were genuine world-class talents to pull on the proud tartan jersey, now seem light years ago.

With the greatest of respects, the calibre on show nowadays is a far cry from what many of us were lucky to have witnessed.

Talking Points

To prove my point, let me point to a story I read earlier this week in which Lawrence Shankland hopes he can “surprise” doubters if he is given his Scotland debut against Russia in Moscow.

The Dundee United striker is the only Scottish second tier player in Steve Clarke’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers with Russia and San Marino, something former Scotland striker Kris Boyd said was a “sad indictment” of the national game.

However, I suggest the more pertinent point is that Scotland should not have to call upon players at that level and is one of many reasons why they are almost certain to miss out on a place at a major tournament yet again – even if they win this contest.

The nadir of qualification came in March when the hapless Scots suffered one of the most abject defeats in their history in their first Euro 2020 qualifier against Kazakhstan, ranked 117 in the world.

Now Shankland could very well find him starting in Moscow with the news on Monday that Oli McBurnie has dropped out the squad, being replaced by midfielder Stuart Armstrong.

The 24-year-old has started his first season at Tannadice in scintillating form, scoring 15 goals in 13 matches.

Yet without playing down his achievements, it is far from the level at which worthy international opponents can be found and the gulf in class between Scotland’s finest and those of others has been illustrated time and time again in qualifying.

That included recently by a rampant Belgium side who, by the half-hour, had ensured Scotland’s hopes had disappeared from sight.

Russia is not a leading nation at all by the way, themselves a far cry from USSR sides of yesteryear, however, the starting XI will still be too strong for the visitors.

It’s realistically tier two against a tier four-nation right now so don’t expect a Euro 2020 news shock to emerge, despite the best endeavours of Shankland and Co.

History

These nations have only met three times since the former Soviet Union was divided.

The first was in 1994 in a qualifier for Euro 96 which both nations reached.

Scott Booth and Dimitri Radchenko traded goals in a 1-1 draw before the sides played out a goalless draw in the return fixture the following March in Moscow.

Among the players on duty that day were Andrei Kanchelskis, John Collins and Gary McAllister.

Only last month Russia won at Hampden to move closer to Euro 2020.

Despite John McGinn’s opener, Russia came from behind to record a 2-1 success courtesy of goals from Artem Dzyuba and an own goal.

Four matches against the former Russia between 1967 and 1991 resulted in three Russia friendly victories and a 2-2 draw at the 1982 World Cup – Joe Jordan and Souness were the scorers that day for the Scots, managed by the great Jock Stein.

The only Scottish victory came at Euro 92 when they ran out 3-0 winners against a nation then briefly called the CIS – a team composed of players from 12 of the 15 former Soviet Union members.

Paul McStay, Brian McClair and McAllister were the scorers that night, although both failed to progress from their group.

Betting Tip

Brazil 1×2 @ 1.40

The SBOBET Euro 2020 betting odds heavily fancy a Russia success – and why wouldn’t they.

You can back them 1X2 @ 1.53, Asian Handicap –1.25 @ 2.38 or a repeat of their recent meeting – correct score 2-1 @ 7.40.

That is in stark contrast to Scotland 1X2 @ 5.80 – even the draw is available at an unexpected @ 3.90 – or Asian Handicap Scotland +0.75 @ 2.31.

Goals are expected – hardly surprising when Scotland conceded three against Kazakhstan – with over 2.50 goals on offer @ 2.23 and total goal 2-3 @ 1.83.

The form guide really doesn’t allow me to do anything else.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

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James Davis
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