ENGLAND vs SCOTLAND - A new chapter in an old rivalry

The oldest international fixture in world football returns this Friday as rivals and neighbours England and Scotland meet.  This is the first meeting between the home nations in World Cup qualifying action after they were drawn together in Group F of the UEFA section for the Russia 2018 World Cup so this match will take on added significance.

Over the years there have been a number of memorable results for fans on both sides of Hadrian's Wall to shout about, with a few of these selected below for your viewing pleasure to get you in the mood for the world's oldest international fixture.

Since 1872, the football associations of England and Scotland have met each other on the pitch 112 times, with the English leading with 47 wins compared to the Scots 41 victories.  There have been 24 draws.  Of these games, 15 of them have been recognised friendlies, 5 took place in the Rous Cup between 1985 and 1989, while between 1884 and 1984 the sides met each other in the British Home Championship on 89 occasions.  There have only been 3 games when the countries have met in main international tournaments, once at Euro '96 when England won 2-0, then in the playoffs for the 2000 European Championships which saw England make it to the finals that took place in Belgium and the Netherlands.  This was the last time the countries met in competitive action.

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The very first fixture between the sides took place on the 30th of November 1872 at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow, but there wasn't to be any joyful celebrations for the Scottish side on St. Andrew's Day as the sides drew 0-0.  There have only been two other times when the sides have drawn a blank against each other, in 1970 and in 1987, both times at Hampden Park.  The last time the teams met England ran out convincing 3-1 winners over Scotland at Celtic Park in 2014, Wayne Rooney scoring a double.  Scotland's last victory over the "Auld Enemy" was in 1999 when a Don Hutchison goal saw the Scots win 1-0 in the 2nd leg of the UEFA Euro 2000 playoff.  This was the last time the countries met each other at the old Wembley, a fact members of the Tartan Army like to remind their English friends about.

  [video width="480" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/2014-November-18-Scotland-1-England-3-Friendly.mp4"][/video]  

While both nations have a proud and storied history in international football, in recent years it has only been the English that have competed at the finals in international tournaments.  You have to go back to 1998 for the last time Scotland reached a major finals which was the World Cup in France.  The next World Cup will mark 20 years since the Scottish side last played at a major tournament and after a sticky start to their qualifying campaign, the wait does look like to be extended past Russia 2018.

After a disappointing exit at the hands of Iceland in Euro 2016, England started a new era by replacing Roy Hodgson as Manager with Sam Allardyce, a proud Englishman who had worked wonders at a number of clubs in the English Premier League.  After a late goal from Adam Lallana in Slovakia got his reign off to a winning start, Allardyce stepped down as boss due to an investigative report by a daily newspaper which brought his brief spell as England manager to an end.  England's Under 21 manager Gareth Southgate, who started his managerial career with Middlesbrough in 2006, took over as caretaker manager of the national senior side for 4 games, starting with an unconvincing win over minnows Malta and a 0-0 draw in Slovenia where they had Joe Hart to thank for rescuing a point.  Southgate will be in the hot-seat for this Friday's game against Scotland as well as a friendly versus Spain next week, and if results go England's way his name could be in for the frame permanently, though it is widely rumoured that he is keeping the seat warm for an experienced Frenchman already working in London to take the reins at the end of the season.

  [video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Jim-Baxter-keepie-uppie-against-England-1967.mp4"][/video]  

For Scotland, they had the disappointment of looking on from the outside while Euro 2016 took place this summer, as they were the only one of the home nations (plus Republic of Ireland) to not make the summer's big football showpiece.  Their World Cup campaign got off to a great start with a 5-1 thumping of Malta away from home before they stuttered to a 1-1 draw at home to Lithuania where they needed a last minute equaliser from James McArthur.  This left them with the tricky task of taking something away from their trip to Slovakia but a dismal display saw the Slovaks easily beat Scotland 3-0 to leave the Scots fourth in their group at the time of going to press.

England's squad for this week's clash blends a great mix of youth and experience with only 2 players aged over 30 (Rooney and Jagielka) while only Rooney, Gary Cahill and Joe Hart have picked up more than 50 caps for their country.  Uncapped players Michael Keane, Aaron Cresswell and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford are included in the 25-man squad as well.  15 club sides are represented in the 3 Lions squad with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur having 4 players each.  The only doubts Southgate has on players at the moment is the fitness of Harry Kane and whether Theo Walcott will play as his wife is due to give birth any day now.



For Scotland, their squad bolsters 592 caps between the 26 players selected, but they have only hit the net 50 times for their country - by contrast, England's top scorer Wayne Rooney has scored 53 times in international football alone.  6 of the Scottish squad are aged over 30, while the youngest member of the squad, Oliver Burke, who is tipped to be the country's answer to Gareth Bale, is just 19, and plies his trade in the German Bundesliga for RB Leipzig who are flying high at the moment.  The only uncapped player in Scotland's squad is Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton while Scott Brown and Darren Fletcher are the only players with 50 or more caps.  16 clubs are represented in the Scotland squad but a telling example of the gulf in class is that while all of England's players play in the top flights of England or Italy, only 14 players in Scotland's 26-man squad play in the top division in England, Germany or Scotland.  Celtic have 4 players represented in the Scotland squad.  Doubts over the fitness of Scott Brown, Steven Fletcher and Gordon Greer will give manager Gordon Strachan a selection headache before the clash at Wembley.

With their big game experience, England should run out comfortable winners on Friday, however, as with all derby matches, form tends to go out of the window and it will become a matter of which team wants the win more on the night.

In 1977 Scotland took over Wembley and defeated England 2-1 with goals from Gordon McQueen and Kenny Dalglish. However, the game is more remembered for the thousands of Scots that took to the pitch in celebration and tore up parts of the pitch as well as taking down the goalposts.

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