Euro 2020 finally kicks off on Friday, after being postponed for a year – and the Stadio Olimpico in Rome is where the action commences, with Italy hosting Turkey.
On Sunday afternoon, Group D gets underway, which will prove an exciting prospect. With two host nations in England and Scotland, Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions will look to continue their good form from the 2018 World Cup. While for Steve Clarke’s Scotland, it’s a first appearance at the final tournament since Euro ‘96.
With Hamden Park hosting two of Scotland’s three fixtures – their meeting against England takes place at the iconic Wembley Stadium – let’s see how things look ahead of their clash against the Czech Republic.
Scotland has a mixed record against the Czechs. From nine encounters, they have four wins, suffered four losses, and have one draw to date. This historical data is reflected in the Scotland v Czech Republic betting odds – almost making it too close to call. However, Clarke’s side is the slight underdogs going into their opening match.
The two most recently met in the Nations League, in Group B2. The Scots did the double over the Czech Republic, winning in Olomouc in the matchday 2, before securing a home victory at Hampden Park, through Ryan Fraser’s early effort.
- Scotland are playing in their first European Championship for 25 years. They failed to make it out of the groups on that occasion
- The Czech Republic have been ever-present at the Euros, and in qualifying for Euro 2020, will making their seventh successive appearance at the tournament
- While Scotland have never made it passed the group stage, the Czechs were runners-up on their debut, also reaching the semi-finals in 2004. Three of their six tournaments have extended passed the group stages. As Czechoslovakia, they were crowned champions in 1976.
In qualifying, Scotland finished third in Group I and were rewarded their place at Euro 2020, via their performances in the Nations League. They entered the playoff-stage from Path C – and were the penalty kings. First, beating Israel in the semi-final, and then overcoming Serbia in the final.
Steve Clarke has been in charge since May 2019, and was at the helm for the majority of the Euro qualifiers – guiding them to a first major tournament since the 1998 France World Cup. Looking ahead to Qatar 2022, Scotland are second in Group F, with a long way to go.
John McGinn was Scotland’s top goalscorer in qualifying, with seven goals, and the midfielder – who plays his domestic football for Aston Villa – has brought a real dynamism to the midfield, and is worthy of his place in Clarke’s squad.
The Czechs automatically qualified for the final tournament, after finishing as runner-up to England in Group A. They won five of their eight qualifiers, losing the remaining three and secured their place, four points clear of Kosovo.
Jaroslav Šilhavý has been in charge of the Czech national team since September 2018, and similarly have had mixed fortunes. In their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign, the Czech Republic sit second to Belgium, with three matches played.
While their top scorer in qualifying was Patrik Schick, all eyes will be on Vladimír Darida. The midfielder played a pivotal role in the win against in England, in qualifying. With 71 caps to his name, he is the Czech’s most experienced player and recently took over as captain.