‘We’ll batter the Scots’: England fans in confident mood as Scottish invasion descends on Wembley ahead of huge Euro 2020 clash

The biggest group stage derby of Euro 2020 takes place on Friday, when England and Scotland clash at Wembley for pride and points in their second games of the campaign. Even fans who didn’t get tickets are buzzing with excitement.

The 115th episode of the oldest international football fixture is taking place against a backdrop that is as strange as it is familiar.

Huge pride on both sides is at stake and arch antagonism is a given as England face Scotland on a night when Wembley would undoubtedly have been brimming had full capacity been allowed at the Euro 2020 host venue.

As it is, with the capacity set to 22,500, thousands of Scots have made their way south, intent to build and absorb the reliably feisty atmosphere ahead of one of the sport’s most evocative rivalries, even if they cannot be at a match they are desperate to win.

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A reputed large gathering of descending Scots in Hyde Park disperses quicker than they might have liked thanks to torrential downpours during the day that do more for the surrounding wildlife than wild pre-match preparations.

Fans crowd in pockets under umbrellas, including a group who stayed overnight in the English city of Sunderland, which is nearer to Scotland than London, before taking a train at 5.30am to be here.

“The traffic is the worst thing here,” says one, sounding unimpressed with being so far south. “That and trying to cross the road – no one talks to you.”

At Wembley Stadium, the mood is raucous. Scots in kilts and England fans bedecked in clubs making clear their club loyalties diverge on the national stadium, which looks glorious even on a distinctly grey day.

“3-0,” predicts a member of England’s Block 109 club, who have produced a special beer, ‘Wembeerly’. “Sterling, Rashford and Kane.”

One England fan predicted a 3-0 win for the Three Lions. © RT Sport / Ben Miller


Inevitably, many here have not been able to secure a hallowed ticket for the game. Some, painfully, had tickets in the original ballot but found their luck was out when a draw was introduced after the crowd limit was heavily reduced.

“I originally had a ticket, back in 2019,” says Dan, wearing a shiny new England shirt and tracksuit. “However, because of Covid it went to reduced capacity and through the ballet, unfortunately, my ticket got canceled.

“I’m gutted because it’s a lifetime ambition and I’d been looking forward to the game for a long time.

“I thought, ‘why not come to wembley?’ I wanted to come to soak up the atmosphere. I’m a Southampton fan so I want to see Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong do well [for Scotland], but I’m a diehard England fan and I don’t want to lose to them.”

Even to romantics in tartan, the question of whether Scotland can avoid defeat is shrouded in doubt after their first match at the finals. Brushed aside by a Patrick Schick brace featuring an audacious long-range strike that could prove to be the goal of the tournament, the visitors will need to be considerably improved if they are to avoid a repeat of their famous last meeting with England at a major tournament, when they missed a penalty with the score goalless before losing 2-0 to opponents inspired by maverick midfielder Paul Gascoigne.

That game has achieved immortal status during the decades since, and Scotland would dearly love to avenge that agony by creating a new, more surprising piece of history with a win that would reignite their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages.

While the likes of Champions League-winning Liverpool defender Andy Robertson and immensely promising Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour are among the ample talents in their squad, there is no argument that England, who are considered title contenders at the finals, have a far superior team.

If it would be inaccurate to suggest that the emotion of this clash will render form irrelevant, the rarity and resonance of the occasion should give Scotland every motivation to pounce in the event of England misfiring or even suffering stage fright.

The underdogs are, on paper, no slouches: seven of their expected starting 11 play for Premier League clubs, with Adams scoring an impressive nine times for midtable Southampton last season, Scott McTominay and John McGinn being mainstays in midfield for Manchester United and Aston Villa and, at full-back, Arsenal’s swashbuckling Kieran Tierney being pronounced fit to return from injury for a showdown that is likely to be crucial for his nation.

McTominay is among the main men for Scotland. © Reuters


Daisy and her husband have traveled from Glasgow to be here. “Scotland might just get a result tonight,” they say. “We’d be happy with a draw – 1-1 or 0-0, even.

“Obviously, on paper England are better but we’re optimistic. We still don’t know where we’re going to watch it.”

In a sign of how momentous this match is, the family have made the sizeable journey to Wembley without tickets. “It was a quick decision to book it,” they say. “We don’t have tickets, but we’re staying just round the corner and we wanted to taste the atmosphere.

“It’s Scotland-England, right? These games don’t come around often, and with everything closed abroad, we thought we’d make a little break of it and watch the game. It’s good.

“Honestly, we’re optimistic for tonight. Hopefully we’ll get the result. It’s a big game and we’re playing for pride, not just for points.”

Scotland fans have massed in London. © Reuters


Even a draw would be a significant result for Steve Clarke’s side – fans would undoubtedly claim bragging rights with a point in light of the lesser resources they have to choose from, not to mention the opportunity it would set up to reach the round of 16 by beating England’s first victims, Croatia.

A fan brandishing a flag for Premier League Brighton is in no doubt that Scotland have no chance of grabbing a point or three. “I got here nice and early and I’m flying the flag high for my hometown,” he says.

“We’ve got tickets today for the game. Hopefully we’ve got here early enough to get into the pub for some banter.

“We’ll batter the Scots, they’re awful – they lost 2-0 to the Czech Republic. They’ve got a little bit of a threat going forward and Robertson and McGinn are good players. But I think we’ll batter them all over the park.”

His brave choice of attire is better suited to a tropical beach than the vagaries of a English summer weather. “I’ve come in shorts because if you’re going to get wet, why do you want to be in a pair of jeans?” he reasons.

“I’m going 3-0 today: Harry Kane twice and Jack Grealish first goalscorer.”

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