For Scotland, the last six years have been something of a renaissance period. The Scots qualified for their first international tournament in 22 years at the 2020 European Championships. Two years later, Scotland narrowly missed out on qualification for the World Cup in Qatar. That culminated in qualification to a second consecutive European Championship at Euro 2024.

Steve Clarke has managed to build an impressively competitive international team. A core of talented individuals has a full team spirit. Scotland has returned to the map of international soccer after years in the wilderness.

History has not yielded success

This, after all, is a nation with a wealth of talent in their storied former generations. Players like Dennis Law and Graeme Souness, Kenny Dalglish and Billy Bremner, Pat Nevin, John Collins and Ally McCoist. These teams beat the world’s best. Scotland triumphed over France in 1997 just before Les Bleus won the ensuing World Cup and European Championship. In 1978, Archie Gemmill’s brace sank the Netherlands in the group stage of the World Cup. That game lives long in the nation’s memory. Also, locals still delight in a victory over the English world champions of 1966.

And yet, for a side whose history has been touched greatness in moments, there remains one giant obstacle. They have never got out of the group stages at an international tournament.

Scotland has come close several times. It has beaten giants only to be outdone by a minnow. There have also been times when you would’ve thought it more probable than ever before. Reaching the second stage of a tournament has always proved elusive for Scotland.

This summer’s Euro 2024 represents Scotland’s greatest chance yet to break that cycle. The nature of the 24-team tournament means that there will only be 8 of those who’ve qualified for the tournament that will not be making it out of the group stage. Four of the six third-place teams receive a spot in the knockout rounds.

A historically strong Scotland side at Euro 2024

For a team with the quality of Scotland, that should be a target well within their reach. John McGinn helped steer Aston Villa to its highest league finish for almost 30 years. Consequently, he will be a captain in next season’s Champions League. Andy Roberston and Kiernan Tierney, at one time a cause for team selection headache, now dovetail perfectly in Clarke’s adjusted line-up. Clarke has discovered how to get the best out of Scott McTominay, too. The Manchester United man turned into a Lampard-esque goal-getter from deep, notching up seven in qualifying.

The bad news comes from the loss of Lewis Ferguson. The Bologna midfielder recently played a key role in Bologna’s best finish in Serie A since the 1970/71 campaign. He will miss the tournament after suffering a knee injury late in the club calendar.

There are other challenges to overcome. Outside of McTominay’s heroics, the side lacks conviction in the attacking third. Che Adams is likely to lead the line and will need to be at his most clinical if they are to be successful. Scotland’s lack of depth up front was underlined by Steve Clarke’s inclusion of the untested Ben Doak to the squad for the summer.

Uncharted territory for proud Scotland side

These are, no doubt, issues for Steve Clarke to face. The fact remains. This summer, a first step into the second round of an international tournament is well within their grasp.

They won’t have much time to ease their way in though. Their opening game is the one that kicks off the tournament itself with a tricky tie against hosts Germany. That represents the toughest challenge they face. Reaction to the result will play a key part in determining their success against fellow opponents Hungary and Switzerland.

No game is a foregone conclusion despite Scotland’s recent uptick in performances. Sitting at No. 39 in FIFA’s latest ranking system, Scotland is the lowest-ranked team in Group A. Germany is a questionable low 16th, with Switzerland and Hungary at 19th and 26th, respectively.

To beat its history, Scotland will need to beat the odds. It’s certainly a challenge, but it will go down in the nation’s folklore if achieved.


Euro 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Euros!
Euro Bracket: Download a free PDF bracket for the tournament
Euro 2024 Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Euro games live in 2024
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer