Roy Hodgson’s England side will welcome the ‘Auld Enemy’ [Scotland] to Wembley Stadium on August 14th as part of the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
The title of ‘football’s oldest rivalry’ is being used to promote the awkwardly scheduled game, which takes place just three days after the Community Shield and three days before the Premier League kicks off.
Hardcore supporters of both sides will need no reminder of the cultural significance the fixture holds. England vs Scotland Wembley tickets will be the proverbial ‘hot cakes’ of the international offerings.
It may surprise you to learn that the tally is pretty much even over the years. Over 110 meetings, Scotland’s 41 wins and England’s 44 leave 24 draws behind. It is an astonishingly even record for two teams with vastly different expectations on them outside of this fixture.
Time has not exactly been kind to either side since their last face off.
In 1999, Don Hutchinson scored the only goal for Scotland in a 1-0 win at the old Wembley. The game was the second leg of a play off for a place in Euro 2000. Had it not been for England goalkeeper David Seaman, Scotland may have overturned their 2 goal deficit from the first leg and qualified instead of England.
Since then, Scotland have failed to qualify for any major tournament, while England have consistently under achieved when they have done so.
The FIFA ranking’s currently claim that England are the 9th best team in the world, while Scotland are just below Iran in 74th place.
At the best of times, the FIFA rankings should only be used as a vague form guide and one thing worth noting in the build up to this game is that it’s winners shouldn’t necessarily be pre-determined on paper. There are plenty more factors at work.
Hodgson’s side will be favorites, but having scraped through a 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland in their last home game, confidence isn’t exactly sky-high.
Former England striker Gary Lineker accused Hodgson’s team of ‘stepping back into the dark ages’ on Twitter during the Ireland game.
Despite an impressive 2-2 draw with Brazil just days after, the English national team still has a cloud hanging over it.
There is fear that England may not qualify for the World Cup. It is a possibility, but really England shouldn’t be considering failure since the final outcome is still in their hands, but has there really been any signs lately that England are capable of rising to the occasion and handling pressure?
While the team are low on confidence and have other priorities, Scotland will smell blood. No-one would gain more from a win over England than this Scotland squad.
If England appear disjointed and lacking in confidence than Scotland, under new manager Gordon Strachan, are the exact opposite. They are focused on creating squad unity and looking towards the future. They come into this game following an unexpected 1-0 victory over Croatia, labelled as their best performance ‘for years’.
It is easy to simply write Scotland off, but don’t think for a minute Roy Hodgson will. England’s manager will remind his players that should they slip up, they are sending the wrong message to the rest of the world. Every year games like these become tenser affairs than the year before. Live football in 2013 promises more heat, more pressure.
A loss for England, while irrelevant to their hopes of reaching the World Cup, would really diminish belief in the camp. They are at a stage where they need to be building serious momentum, based on the belief that they WILL make it to Brazil.
I predict that England’s players will simply be more eager to get their own respective seasons underway and that their quality will be the difference on the FA’s big day.
Despite all the national pride at stake, we mustn’t forget this is only a friendly.
The hard work for both teams will come in the aftermath of this game.