Scotland’s Chances in the EUROS

This Sunday, Wycombe and Peterborough will line up under the iconic Wembley arch in what will be the eighth final since the introduction of academy teams.

Scotland, a country that claims to have invented the ‘passing game’, inspiring South America and the rest of Europe to play the game in the way we’re familiar with today, has endured a miserable time on the international scene for as long as many can remember.


While the nation is an absolute hotbed of footballing culture and passion, boasting some of the greatest ever managers in the game’s history, such as Bill Shankly and Alex Ferguson, the largest per-capita average crowd attendances in the world, and two of the most globally recognised football clubs in Celtic and Rangers, the national team has struggled to ever experience much success.


Football is intertwined into the nation’s culture to a greater extent than perhaps anywhere else in the world. While those in Brazil will argue that their samba, beach style and passion for the game have had more influence on the global game, the significance of football to the people might be rivalled by what we see in Scotland.


With the absence of the sunny weather of Brazil, the rest of South America, and warmer climates within Europe, it can feel, for some, like there is nothing else to do in Scotland than attend or play football at the weekend.


So, why have the Tartan army been so deprived of any international footballing success? Despite its relatively small population, you’d imagine this football worshipping nation would be regularly present in EUROS and World Cup tournaments, and even reaching the final rounds on occasion.


Scotland’s Historic Qualification Horrors


To understand the desperation of the Scottish people to qualify and perform at this summer’s EUROS, you must recognise the agonising near misses and crushing failures of their past 30 years of international football.


Until the turn of the Century, Scottish supporters were used to seeing their nation compete at major tournaments – while they failed to win any silverware, the small country usually had a team they could be proud of, with some of their best talents playing prominent roles for English giants Manchester United and Liverpool. Qualifying for five consecutive World Cup tournaments between 1974 and 1990, Scotland was considered one of the world’s strongest footballing nations.


Scotland would experience limited success during the 90s. Still, they successfully qualified for two EUROS tournaments, as well as the France 1998 World Cup. However, the national team would then embark on a journey of failure and absence from major competitions that nobody could have envisaged.


In 2008 Scotland looked set to play in their first EURO’S tournament in well over a decade, before falling to a shock 2-0 defeat against minnows Georgia, who had a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old starting for them, and conversely missing out on that summer’s tournament in Austria and Switzerland.


It was a horror that stayed with the Scottish for another 12 years of disappointment until 2020, as the Tartan Army qualified for the EUROS and ended their 23-year absence from major tournaments.


Scottish supporters may have had limited expectations heading into their first major tournament of the 21st century, but registering just one goal and picking up a single point may have surpassed the dreads of even the most pessimistic Scottish fans.


Euro 2024


Nonetheless, Scotland, after finishing above Erling Haaland’s Norway in qualification, are heading off to this summer’s EUROS in Germany. There’s a rejuvenated sense of pride and expectation in a national team that’s been performing better over the past couple of seasons.


Defender Ryan Porteous suggested Scotland are “not far off” the best teams going to Germany this summer, and supporters will share some optimism. However, negotiating a tricky group with Germany, Switzerland, and Hungary, making up their fellow competitors in Group A, will be the first challenge for the Scots.


Bookies have Scotland at 80/1 to win the whole tournament, but progression out of the group stages and a new injection of Scottish pride will surely be enough for supporters who’ve endured such a torrid time since across much of the 21st century.