National Teams (110)
With the mounting uncertainties surrounding European football due to Covid-19, both sides will be grateful that they can kick on with their UEFA European Championship qualification campaigns. This international break comes quite soon after their last matches that took place in September.
This game will be the first of two ties for Scotland during the break, as they play San Marino, away from home, after they host the Czech Republic at Tynecastle.
Scot Gemmill said that he was "glad to have international football, so soon after the Lithuania game". Gemmill will be looking to build momentum from September’s win in Vilnius, where Scotland ran out 1-0 victors after a 81st-minute winner from Motherwell midfielder, Allan Campbell.
Gemmill will be glad to have the combative midfielder back in his squad for the upcoming tie with the Czech Republic, as the midfielder has chalked up two goals in his last eight for Motherwell, which is a great return considering he scored five in thirty matches for Motherwell last season.
Goals have been in somewhat short supply during the campaign with only five goals in the six games that have been played. It could be up to the likes of Campbell getting on the scoresheet, for Scotland to come away with a vital three points.
At the other end of the spectrum, Scotland have been robust in defence only conceding only two in six matches. This could be down to players in key defensive areas like Ryan Porteous in central defence and team captain Ross McCrorie, shoring up the midfield, gaining more experience as key members for their clubs and bringing that to their international game.
In announcing his squad, Gemmill has added Barry Maguire (Motherwell) and Patrick Reading (Ayr United) as well as a newcomer to this level - 18-year-old Harrison Ashby, who has featured in West Ham United’s Carabao Cup campaign this season and could be in the running to make his debut at under-21 level.
Ashby plays as a full back and has picked up caps at under-17 and under-19 level for Scotland. The defender featured in all but one game of the under-19 European Championships qualifying campaign, with the biggest highlight being a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory over Germany. It is unclear if Ashby will get a starting spot for Scotland on Friday but the promising defender seems to be making significant waves on the international stage for Scotland.
In the competition, the Czech Republic are yet to lose and have picked up seventeen goals in the seven games that they have played. They also top the statistical charts for the most attempts on goal in the whole competition, beating the likes of France and the Netherlands.
Their coach, Karel Krejci, will be irritated at the number of draws his side have recorded in the competition, jeopardising their lead in the group, despite their attacking displays. Scotland are one of the sides to have silenced Krejci’s free-scoring Czechs in the campaign, with neither side being able to break the deadlock in the reverse tie, that was played back in October 2019.
The main threat in the Czech side would be the 21-year-old central midfielder, Ladislav Krejci (Sparta Prague) who has picked up five goals in the last seven qualifying games. Despite being considered a defensive midfielder who can double up as a central defender, Krejci has picked up two braces in the competition, albeit against San Marino home and away, but has picked up two in five games for his club side, Sparta Prague, showing himself to be more than just a player getting in on the action against lesser opposition.
As it stands, Scotland are currently third in the group with the potential to top the group by the end of the two qualifying games during this international break. Their opponents, the Czech Republic are currently first.
However, Greece, in second, have a game with Lithuania which could see them leapfrog the Czechs to top the group. Scotland are in a position that the goings on elsewhere, doesn’t really affect them as much. They need to get maximum points from the next two games to stand a chance of qualifying from this group.
Scotland U21 Squad announced:
Lewis Fiorini (NAC Breda)+++
Logan Chalmers (Dundee United)
PJ Morrison (Motherwell)
Ross Doohan (Ross County)++
Kieran Wright (Partick Thistle)+
Harrison Ashby (West Ham United)
Daniel Harvie (MK Dons)
Ross McCrorie (Aberdeen)+
Barry Maguire (Motherwell)
Lewis Mayo (Rangers)
Tom McIntyre (Reading)
Nathan Patterson (Rangers)
George Johnston (Feyenoord)
Patrick Reading (Ayr United)
Allan Campbell (Motherwell)
Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen)
Stephen Kelly (Ross County)+
Glenn Middleton (Rangers)
David Turnbull (Celtic)
Conor McLennan (Aberdeen)
Fraser Hornby (Stade de Reims)
James Scott (Hull City)
+ on loan from Rangers
++ on loan from Celtic
+++ on loan from Manchester City
On 15th October, Scotland’s U19 squad managed to shock Europe with a 1-0 victory over Germany, booking their place in the Elite round of European qualifiers. After topping their group, Scotland will look to play their way to the U19 European Championships 2020, which is being hosted by Northern Ireland next June.
Scotland kicked off their group with a fair yet disappointing 2-2 draw with Belarus. Scotland began the game on the front foot, going 2-0 up in the first 20 minutes, courtesy of Nathan Patterson and Adedapo Mebude. However, this comfortable lead was short lived as Belarus managed to pull one back in the 34th minute with Dmitri Prischepa putting his name on the score sheet.
Belarus continued their momentum and in the 54th minute, they equalised through Raman Davyskiba. Following the equaliser, the game slowed down until some late drama with Victor Sotnikov being sent off 10 minutes before the whistle.
Scotland lit up their qualification campaign with a 2-0 win over Andorra. The first half was slow and it took Scotland a while to get into their stride. However, after a lot of perseverance Scotland opened the scoring through Jack Burroughs, eight minutes after the restart. Scotland used their momentum to knick another goal in the 65th minute with Jamie Hamilton adding to Scotland’s lead. In the late stages of the game, Andorra had a man sent off. This sealed the win for Scotland’s young squad.
Next up for Scotland was group favourites, Germany. Going into the game, Germany were expected to win the game, scoring many goals in the process. In the first two games, Germany had scored 12 goals and conceded two whilst Scotland had also conceded two goals but had only managed to score four. The first half was rugged and was poised for an intense game as there was nothing between the two sides.
Scotland scored at the perfect moment through Josh McPake, one minute before the interval. The second half was similar to the first and ran right to the wire. However, Scotland remained calm and managed to see the game through 1-0.
This U19's squad is full of talent and will be eager to play in Northern Ireland next summer. Should Scotland qualify for next year’s tournament, be sure to look out for any of these young player rising through the ranks and playing for the senior Scotland squad. Who knows, maybe they will be playing in the Scotland national team’s first major tournament since 1998.
“Preparations have gone well and we’ve got a young group of players desperate to do well on the big stage. We’re in a tough group but it’s a challenge I know the players will relish.
“Women’s football is thriving in Scotland and we want to be a part of that buzz this summer. The players can’t wait to play in front of a loud home crowd and hopefully the country gets behind us, like they did for the ‘A’ squad’s World Cup debut in France.
“Over the course of July we want to continue to help inspire the next generation and also provide a platform for these young players to take the next step in their careers and continue to progress."
Pauline Hamill, Scotland’s Under-19s Head Coach said “We can’t wait to take on the best in Europe this summer. To compete against Netherlands, Norway & France will be a tough test but the squad will be ready, it’s exciting.”
Pauline added “Having the home crowd will give the girls that extra edge. We’ll prepare in the right way, control what we can control and see where it can take us.”
Speaking at the draw, Glasgow City midfielder Jo Love showed her support for the future heroes of the Scotland Women’s National team: “Both Erin and I progressed through the ranks, having represented Scotland at youth level. We never played in front of a home crowd at a major tournament, so this is a huge opportunity for the girls.”
Love continued “All games are tough at any tournament, Pauline has the squad playing well and on their day can compete with the best in Europe. I’m looking forward to seeing Scotland play, particularly Captain Amy Muir who will be a future star of the women’s game.”