That’s the bare-bones backdrop for Friday’s Euro 2020 group-stage match as Scotland takes on England, the “Auld Enemy.” And while inactivity has taken some of the heat out of the rivalry, there’s still plenty that lingers.
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
Time: 3 p.m. Eastern
U.S. TV/streaming: ESPN, ESPN+
So far in Euro 2020: Raheem Sterling scored in the 57th minute to give England a 1-0 win over Croatia on Sunday. Scotland was not as fortunate on Monday, falling 2-0 to the Czech Republic after two goals from Patrik Schick, the latter of which coming when he caught Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall wandering off his line and lofted the ball into the net from nearly 50 meters out. It was the longest goal in European Championship history.
At stake: England will punch its ticket into the knockout round with a win, no matter the result of the Czech Republic-Croatia match earlier Friday. A draw or Scotland win will muddle things heading into the final Group D matches on Tuesday.
Odds: As of Friday morning, England was a heavy -360 favorite to win on the DraftKings Sportsbook three-way moneyline. Scotland was a +1100 underdog, and the draw was +460. The total was 2.5 goals.
Setting the scene: Because of pandemic protocols, only 22,500 fans will be allowed into 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium. Of that number, 2,700 tickets were allocated to Scotland’s fans.
Rivalry history: The two sides first squared off in 1872, making the rivalry the oldest in international soccer, and they played annually in the spring until 1989, when the series was discontinued after fan misbehavior simply became too much.
Take this 1977 match at Wembley, when Scotland’s fans celebrated a 2-1 win by invading the pitch and tearing down the goal posts.
Since the end of the annual play, England and Scotland have met just seven times, with only two friendlies and five matches as part of international competitions (Euro 1996 group play, Euro qualifying in 1999 and World Cup qualifying in 2016-17).
England has 48 wins in the series while Scotland has 41, and there have been 24 draws. Scotland’s last win over England came in 1999, a 1-0 victory during the Euro 2000 qualifying playoffs. England then won the next three before a 2-2 draw in the teams’ last meeting in 2017.
What they’re saying: England Manager Gareth Southgate is trying to keep his charges focused on the task at hand and not on the rivalry.
“You can make the pressure as big as you want,” he said. “We know the importance for our supporters, we know the desire we have as a team, but we have got to play well. Everything else is a lot of noise.”
Scotland midfielder John McGinn echoed that sentiment.
“If we play with too much emotion and passion it might go against us and we’ll end up with 10 men on the park,” said McGinn, who plays professionally for Aston Villa in the English Premier League. “A lot of us have played at Wembley, we’ve all played in big games.
“We’ll be passing on our experiences of it and we’ll not be fazed one bit. It might be the cup final for the supporters, but it’s important for us to use the knowledge of what it means to the country and the supporters and use our heads at the same time, be cool, composed.
“But we don’t want to take out all of our passion and emotion, because that’s what makes Scotland a force in these games.”
Former England manager and player Glenn Hoddle doesn’t seem to believe any of that.
“It will get a bit feisty,” he said. “If you’re playing tiddlywinks against Scotland it gets feisty, that’s the combative energy this fixture brings up.
“The team that controls their emotion will end up playing better and winning.”