Scotland have qualified for their first major tournament in over 20 years, and will try to advance past the group stage of a major tournament for the first time in their history. Scotland finished third in their qualifying group and in truth, were nowhere near to the top 2 places, finishing 9 points behind 2nd placed Russia. They were granted another opportunity to qualify via the play-offs, due to their performance in the Nations League where they won league C, Group 1. They beat Israel in the semi-final 5-3 on penalties, and in the final they again needed spot kicks to get passed Serbia, and they did just that winning 5-4 on penalties to reach their fist major tournament in nearly 25 years. They have lost only 2 of their last 16 games in all competitions, and with many familiar Premier League names in Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), Scott Mctominay (Man United), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal), Liam Cooper (Leeds), john Fleck (Sheffield United) and Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), there are many who feel that this group off players has what it takes to surprise a few at this years tournament.
Scotland actually met the Czech Republic twice in qualifying, winning both times by 2-1 and 1-0 score lines. Czech republic did reach the final of the European Championship in 1996 and the semi-finals in 2004, so they do have some pedigree at major tournaments. They also showed when they beat England in qualifying that they can serve it up to the higher ranked nations and are not to be underestimated. They did however have the lowest goal difference of any team that qualified for this years competition and the question remains about whether this group has the necessary class and fire power to match the countries exploits in previous years.
The referee for this game is Daniel Siebert (Germany), this season he has taken charge of 31 games, giving 117 yellow cards and 2 red cards, for an average of 3.77 yellow cards per game and 0.06 red cards per game. In his career he has refereed 175 games, giving 678 yellow cards and 22 red cards, for an average of 3.87 yellow cards per game and 0.13 red cards per game.
Both sides will see this as a crucial game, with England and Croatia both likely to prove very tough opponents. With home advantage, against a side they have beaten twice already in recent games, Scotland should be able to get over the line with a win. I see this being a close hard fought game, similar to both meetings in 2020, with Scotland likely to prevail by a 2-0 or 2-1 score line.