Football News

Scotland Route To The Final: Potential Opponents at Euro 2024

By CJ Smith

Scotland Route To The Final: Potential Opponents at Euro 2024

Published: 16:28, 7 May 2024

As Euro 2024 approaches, we take a look at who the Tartan Army might face on their route to the European Championships final.

Scotland Route To The Euro 2024 Final: Potential Path

Scotland return to the European Championships for the second edition in a row following a 24-year absence from the tournament but will be looking to fare much better than their three previous group-stage exits. Steve Clarke’s men turned plenty of heads in Qualifying Group A, losing just one of eight matches to finish second, six points ahead of Erling Haaland and Martin Odegaard’s Norway and four points behind Spain, who they beat 2-0 at Hampden early in the campaign. Scotland have been drawn into Group A at this summer’s tournament and will face hosts Germany, as well as Hungary and Switzerland.

European Championship Qualification – Group A
Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost GF GA Points
1 Spain 8 7 0 1 25 5 21
2 Scotland 8 5 2 1 17 8 17
3 Norway 8 3 2 3 14 12 11
4 Georgia 8 2 2 4 12 18 8
5 Cyprus 8 0 0 8 3 28 0

Scotland’s potential route to Euro 2024 final

Scotland’s Group A fixtures

vs Germany (14 June, 8pm BST) – Scotland have been given arguably the most difficult start at the tournament as they take on hosts Germany in the opening match. Although they’ll be well supported, the Scots will play in front of a very hostile crowd, with the Germans looking to reassert themselves among international football’s elite after a few miserable recent major tournaments. Scotland surprised Spain during qualifying, can they do the same here?

vs Switzerland (19 June, 8pm BST) – There’s a high chance Scotland will head into this match without any points on the board yet, so taking on Switzerland in Köln will be seen as a huge opportunity. These two nations haven’t met since 2006, so there’s pretty much nothing to garner from their head-to-head record. But both appear evenly matched on paper, making this a defining clash in the group.

vs Hungary (23 June, 8pm BST) – On paper, Hungary might look like an easier task than Switzerland. However, they have been in far better form over the past couple of years and are now unbeaten in their last 14 matches dating back to September 2022. Scotland simply must hope to have at least three points on the board ahead of this game, where a point would be seen as a great result. Scotland beat Hungary 1-0 in a friendly back in 2018, with a few players from both nations still around presently.

If Scotland finish top of Group A

If Scotland win Group A, they will face the runner-up of Group C in the round of 16. This presents the possibility of a mouth-watering knockout clash against old rivals England. Of course, Germany are more likely to finish top, while England should win Group C, so this is a fanciful scenario.

If Scotland finish runner-up in Group A

This is a much more realistic aim for Scotland and one that would see them meet the Group B runner-up in the last 16. That, of course, is the group of death, meaning it could be any one of Spain, Italy or Croatia, or the far less likely prospect of Albania. This particular route would most likely result in a quarter-final meeting with England, either Belgium or the Netherlands in the semi-finals, and the likes of Germany, Spain or Portugal in the final.

If Scotland finish third in Group A

There is also the prospect of Scotland going through as one of the best third-place teams, but that could present any number of scenarios. The only guarantee here is that the Tartan Army would then meet a group winner in the round of 16. Their most likely opponents would either be the Group B (Spain, Italy, Croatia, Albania) winner, the Group F winner (probably Portugal), or the Group E winner (likely Belgium).

Scotland’s Reasons for Optimism

Scotland have only ever won two of their nine matches at the European Champions, but at the 2020 edition, they showed they can at least frustrate elite opposition when they drew 0-0 with eventual runners-up England. What’s more, their qualifying win against Spain and the campaign to get here overall showed signs of genuine attacking menace, coupled with an ability to close out games when required.

Germany are yet to prove they’re the power they once were, while Scotland will fancy their chances against both Hungary and Switzerland. They’ve just as good a chance of making it out of the groups as the latter two. And once you’re in the knockouts, anything can happen.

Scotland’s Potential Roadblocks

Arguably the most obvious roadblock for Scotland is if Scott McTominay doesn’t bring his scoring boots. The Man Utd midfielder has been in fantastic scoring form at club level this season, with 10 goals in 39 appearances across all competitions, including seven very important strikes in the Premier League. McTominay carried that over into qualifying with a very impressive seven goals — only Harry Kane (8), Kylian Mbappe (9), Cristiano Ronaldo (10) and Romelu Lukaku (14) scored more, which is very fine company indeed.

But what if McTominay can’t replicate those sorts of numbers in Germany this summer? John McGinn, another midfielder, was the only other Scottish player to score more than once with three. And among their forwards called up to the most recent national team camp, QPR’s Lyndon Dykes is the highest scorer with just nine goals in 36 caps.

Scotland have shown they can make games tight and find defining moments when they need them. But if things go against them early, their ability to pull a result back may be found wanting.

Steve Clarke Tactical Insights

Clarke has experimented with a few formations, but 3-4-2-1 seems to be his preferred set-up. Scotland are blessed with some rare depth in the midfield and full-back areas, so this is a system that maximises the quality there, but also allows them to morph into a 5-4-1 when coming under pressure against higher-quality opposition.

Expect to see much of Scotland’s play coming down the left, with Kieran Tierney overlapping Andy Robertson, while McGinn and McTominay will share the responsibility of making late runs into the box. Bologna midfielder Lewis Ferguson will be a massive miss in midfield, so the task of keeping the back door shut and trying to add a little composure in possession will likely fall to Brighton’s Billy Gilmour.

Dykes is the most likely starter up-front, with his main function being holding up the ball both to bring others into play and relieve some pressure on the Scottish defensive third.

Fan and Media Perspectives

Scotland’s qualifying campaign was right up there among their best in decades and that early win over Spain has fans dreaming of what damage they could do in Germany this summer. Even a 4-0 friendly defeat to the Netherlands hasn’t dampened their spirits too much, with Scotland matching their illustrious opponents for about 70 minutes before being harshly punished for some missed chances.

The Scottish media won’t pile anywhere near as much pressure on their players as those south of the border will, but another group stage exit is likely to, at the very least, cause some reflection and exasperation.