Scotland and England will resume the oldest rivalry in international football when they square off at Celtic Park in a friendly on Tuesday (20:00 GMT, live on ITV1).
Scotland have made a good start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and come into the match on the back of a 1-0 win at home to the Republic of Ireland on Friday. They are fourth in Group D, with seven points from two wins, one draw and one defeat.
Friday’s match was a physical and attritional affair, played out in front of a boisterous home crowd in Glasgow. Gordon Strachan (pictured) admitted afterwards that most of the football wasn’t that great, but it was a moment of genuine quality that won his side the match – Shaun Maloney producing a precise curling finish into the corner of the net following a neatly worked set-piece.
The victory strengthened the belief that Scotland are in with a good chance of qualifying for their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup. Strachan seems to have restored pride and confidence to the national team setup, while his tactics have so far proved more efficient, flexible and well-suited to the players than those of his predecessor Craig Levein.
Strachan has trialled a number of new players since taking charge in January 2013, giving debuts to current regulars Andrew Robertson and Ikechi Anya. His team has a good balance, with a decent mixture of flair, pace and work-rate in the final third, attacking full-backs and a solid central core. In addition, David Marshall is a competent goalkeeper.
Injuries ruled Alan Hutton (ankle), Phil Bardsley (groin) and Craig Bryson (hip) out of the squad for the fixtures against Ireland and England.
England make the short journey north of the border on the back of a 3-1 win at home to Slovenia on Saturday. They have won all five of their internationals since the World Cup and top qualification Group E, with 12 points from four straight victories.
England struggled for much of the first hour on Saturday against a committed and well-organised Slovenia side. They failed to muster a single effort on target during the first half and only sprang into action after their visitors took a surprise lead. A penalty from Wayne Rooney and a double from Danny Welbeck eventually secured the three points.
Rooney’s goal, on the occasion of his 100th cap, saw him move to within five goals of equalling Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record of 49 goals for the national team. Yet it was not a vintage performance from the Manchester United forward, whose contribution was overshadowed by those of Welbeck and Adam Lallana, who combined for England’s second.
The football played by Roy Hodgson’s side in their four qualification fixtures to date has been far from fluid, but they are getting the job done. Even at this early stage it would take a disastrous run of results for them to miss out on Euro 2016. Hodgson is likely to use this match as an opportunity to experiment with different personnel and tactics.
Injuries ruled Daniel Sturridge (hamstring), Fabian Delph (shoulder) and and Phil Jones (shin) out of Hodgson’s initial squad selection for the matches against Slovenia and Scotland, while Andros Townsend (ankle), Leighton Baines (hamstring) and Michael Carrick (groin) have all since pulled out.
Scotland vs England Betting Tips
This will be the 112th fixture between these sides. England have the upper hand historically, with 46 wins to Scotland’s 41, and have also won three of the four matches contested in the last 20 years. England were 3-2 winners in the last meeting, at Wembley, in 2013. Rickie Lambert scored the decisive goal after England had twice come from behind.
Scotland come into the match in good form, having lost just one of their last 10 internationals. They have performed well during the early stages of the qualification process – losing narrowly away to Germany and securing a highly credible draw in Poland – and will provide stiff opposition for England, particularly with the Celtic Park crowd egging them on.
England have not played particularly impressive football despite recording five consecutive victories since their early exit from this summer’s World Cup. They have, though, been able to grind out results, even against relatively strong opponents such as Switzerland, through a combination of strong defending and the individual quality of their attackers.
This match is unlikely to be the prettiest or most fluid of encounters. We believe a tightly contested draw is the most probable result.
- Back the draw @ 12/5 with Bet365, Skybet or Betfred.
- Scotland opened the scoring in the last meeting between the sides and have also done so in five of their seven home matches since Strachan took charge. They will seek to get the crowd fired up with a quick start. Back Scotland to score first @ best odds of 6/4 with Bet365.