England vs Scotland at Wembley promises to be one of the most unmissable games of Euro 2020. While Gareth Southgate’s men got up and running in Group B with a 1-0 defeat of World Cup finalists Croatia, Scotland went down 2-0 against Czech Republic on Tuesday.
Southgate might spot a chance to rotate his squad but when the old foes meet they will play for national pride as well as qualification. Here are four of the key battles that will decide who comes out on top in the latest chapter of this ancient rivalry.
4 key battles during England vs Scotland
Phil Foden vs Andy Robertson
Kieran Tierney’s absence against the Czechs made the quandary for Scotland manager Steve Clarke over how to fit two elite left-backs into his side a more simple decision, though the Arsenal man had been set to line up as one of three centre-backs.
If Tierney is not able to return from what Clarke has played down as merely a “niggle”, Scotland skipper Robertson is likely to have his hands full with Manchester City playmaker Foden expected to retain his spot on England’s right flank for England vs Scotland.
Foden ran riot when City won 4-1 at Anfield against Liverpool back in February, a match in which Robertson was substituted by Jurgen Klopp in the closing stages.
After making a strong start against Croatia, hitting the post with a low strike after just five minutes, Foden faded and he will want to make a stronger impact against Scotland. He will also have to provide defensive support to City colleague Kyle Walker with Robertson set to be one of Scotland’s primary attacking threats from his wing-back spot on their left side.
Kalvin Phillips vs John McGinn
Phillips was England’s surprise star against Croatia, creating the goal for Raheem Sterling and more than justifying his playful nickname of the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ with a commanding display.
He was pushed further up the pitch than expected, featuring in more of a box-to-box role ahead of defensive shield Declan Rice, but could be forced deeper by Aston Villa midfielder McGinn.
One of the main goal threats in the Scotland squad, McGinn scored seven times during Scotland’s campaign to reach Euro 2020. He has since found the net three times in three qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup to maintain his fine form in front of goal for the Tartan Army.
Tracking McGinn’s clever late runs into the box will be one of the most important jobs for Phillips in what is sure to be a feverishly passionate atmosphere on Friday night for England vs Scotland Wembley.
Lyndon Dykes vs Tyrone Mings
As was the case with Phillips, many England fans were unimpressed when Mings was named in Southgate’s XI to face Croatia. But he quieted the critics with an assured display on his first appearance at a major international tournament.
The injured Manchester United captain Harry Maguire is not expected to be ready to slot into England’s defence alongside John Stones, so Mings will have another chance to shine. He will face a different type of challenge on Friday with the Villa defender likely to be given the task of looking after Queens Park Rangers striker Dykes, a bull of a physical specimen.
The Australia-born hitman scored 12 Championship goals last season but has found the step up to international level more tricky since opting to represent the Tartan Army over his homeland, netting only twice in 13 appearances so far for Scotland.
With Che Adams knocking on the door, Dykes will need to sharpen up if he is to retain his place for England vs Scotland, with the Southampton striker a strong alternative to lead the line for Clarke’s men at Euro 2020.
Harry Kane vs Grant Hanley
There were plenty of positives for Southgate to take from England’s opening win, but a muted performance from captain Kane was one of the disappointing notes for the Three Lions. Kane looked leggy and he struggled to get into a tight game but having hit six goals to claim the Golden Boot at the World Cup three years ago his international pedigree is not in doubt.
Clarke will probably stick with his back three and it is Hanley who will be expected to pick up Kane, the 29-year-old having shone for Norwich City in their promotion campaign last season.
A physically strong defender who loves to attack the ball, Hanley may be less comfortable following Kane into midfield areas if the Spurs striker drops deep in search of possession. Kane is still England’s best hope of winning what is effectively a home tournament but a clash with Hanley during England vs Scotland is sure to be a bruising battle for Southgate’s skipper.
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