In Review

Can Scotland rediscover their pride against England?

A trip north of the border is not what it was for the Three Lions, but they mustn't be complacent

England can take another significant step towards the 2018 World Cup with victory over Scotland at Hampden Park on Saturday. But defeat for the hosts would almost certainly end their already slim hopes of making another major tournament.

Not only will the game have a big say on both nations' plans for next summer it's also a renewal of the oldest international rivalry in football.

But according to Ewan Murray of The Guardian the match no longer generates the passions it once did. South of the border at least.

As England coasted to a 3-0 win over Scotland at Wembley last autumn the fans appeared to treat it as another routine win. But it'll be a very different atmosphere if the home side find themselves three up on Saturday. 

"If it has always appeared the case Scotland place more significance on a meeting with the Auld Enemy than the English – see Wembley 1977 as a case in point – respective attitudes have surely never looked more contrasting," says Murray. 

"England's supporters are perfectly accustomed to qualifying for major championships as a bare minimum. While Gareth Southgate can hardly be classed as a blue-chip manager, his players collectively operate at a level from which the Scots have long since been removed."

Scottish stars of the past have been writing off the current side, says Ian Herbert of the Daily Mail, who chronicles the decline of the Scottish national team since the 1980s. 

"There are grounds for pessimism," he says. "It is 32 years since Scotland last beat England on home soil and – excruciatingly – only seven men have even scored against England at Hampden in 50 years. One was Colin Todd, netting an own goal. 

"But Scotland always carried a belief and a swagger as steep as the Highlands," he adds.

What's more, the game still has meaning for the players. JJ Bull of the Daily Telegraph refuses to write Scotland off. "When sound-tracked by the Hampden roar, anything can happen," he says. 

"As we've seen on many occasions, the best team doesn't always win a game of football. Defensive errors, poor decision making in the final third and a simple lack of quality on the ball have blighted Strachan's Scotland performances – and to win against England, they need to get every single thing right," he says.

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