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Why Scotland can reach the Euro 2020 Knockout Stages

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Scotland Euro 2021 Squad

It’s fantastic news that Scotland have made it to the Euro 2020 finals. What expectations should we have for the upcoming championships? A visit to an online sportsbook sees odds on Scotland becoming European champions are pretty high  but a prediction of them reaching the knock-out stages could become reality.

It was a long and hard route to get to Euro 2020. The dark days of losing in Kazakhstan and struggling to get a win in San Marino are behind the Scottish side.

Finishing in the top two of their qualifying group was never a likely occurrence. Belgium and Russia dominated proceedings and inflicted four defeats on Scotland. Against Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino, only that opening match in Kazakhstan was lost.  That took them into the play-offs and two penalty shoot-out wins over Israel and Serbia took them into their first finals since 1998.

Ten previous appearances in the finals of the World Cup and European Championships have all had an early end. Never have they gotten out of their group but will 2021 could see a successful prediction of them having a slightly longer stay in the championship.

Scotland takes on the Czech Republic, Croatia and of course the auld enemy England. There’s one big change for the Scottish side in Euro 2020. There’s no long trip to Sweden, France or Italy this time around. This time their first and last group matches are on home soil at Hampden Park. The middle fixture sees them travelling down to London to take on England at Wembley Stadium.

Two out of three at home therefore and not against the best Europe has to offer. Another fact that Scotland can take advantage of is the fact they could finish third in the group and qualify. Winning just one of their three games could well be enough to see them get into the knock-out stages.

The opening match is against the Czech Republic on June 14 with plenty of odds at sportsbooks. That’s the game in which the group win is most likely to come from (apart from those who dream every night of beating England). Scotland were drawn against the Czech Republic in the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League, so they are familiar opponents.

Last September saw Scotland travel to the Czech Republic and come away with a 2-1 win. That didn’t look likely when they went 1-0 down after just 11 minutes. The return match saw another early goal. This time it was Ryan Fraser who scored, and it was the only goal of the match. Two games, two wins, why not a third one at Euro 2020? Scotland have never lost at Hampden against the Czech Republic, so why make a prediction of them starting  now?

The Czechs have lost three of their last four away games, so the odds on them losing this match could be worth taking.  Imagine the confidence boost if Scotland were to win their first group match. That would put them in a good frame of mind for the second game, the big one at Wembley Stadium on June 18.

England are highly fancied to win Euro 2020 according to BritishGambler. That’s despite not winning anything since 1966. Scotland have won one of their last 11 internationals against England. However, that one victory was in a European Championship match in 1999 and it was at Wembley. England boss Gareth Southgate will remember that game well. He was in the England defence that lost the game 1-0.

Beating the odds and winning at Wembley won’t be an easy task of course. Getting a point from the game might be an achievement, but who knows there could be a surprise? Winning this match would probably be better than becoming European Champions.

The final group game is on June 22 when Scotland host Croatia at Hampden Park. Croatia are a country that have faced Scotland on five previous occasions and haven’t won any of them. The first three were drawn, the other two both won by Scotland. Of the five games, four were competitive internationals, the last two in the World Cup. The last meeting was in 2013 but there are plenty of reasons why Scotland can get something from this game.

Ten games in the UEFA Nations League have produced just two wins for Croatia.  Only three of their last 11 games have been won. They’ve won their last two, but you’d expect them to beat Cyprus and Malta at home. Only one of their last 14 away games has been won, why shouldn’t Scotland beat the odds and defeat them on home soil?

It’s not too brave a prediction to say Scotland will reach the knock-out stages. With two games at home, it’s their best chance ever.