The time to be heroes, the time to go ahead and beyond. What an opportunity Scotland had today to win the first game Vs Czech Republic in the Euro 2020 and put themselves in pole position to qualify from the group stages.
Luck favours the brave, and if you believe that, then no wonder lady luck offered Scotland nothing. The same old tired approach by Steve Clarke and the result was there for everyone to see. A 2-0 defeat where a little bit of imagination could have easily seen Scotland win this one. Some of the best young talents were wasted away on the bench from start to finish. Clarke deserves none of your sympathies. None!
The Scotland lineup that was finally revealed 75 minutes before the game kicked off felt like a kick in the gut. I had reconciled myself to the fact that neither Patterson nor Gilmour would start, but no Che Adams or Kieran Tierney was definitely not on the cards. To be fair on Clarke, Tierney missed out due to a little niggle and should be available against England on Friday. The responsibility for the rest falls squarely on Clarke.
Everyone knows that this Czech Republic defence was vulnerable against pace. So what did he do? Not start Patterson or Gilmour who could have ran circles around the Czech Republic defence. Steve Clarke- the tactical mastermind!
Don’t want to single out O’Donnell but what a stinker he had in the first half. David Marshall had a great save from Schick but unfortunately, he could not stop the Czech forward from scoring when he connected with Coufal’s header superbly. Frankly, O’Donnell should have had it covered but that was just one of several mistakes the right-back made throughout the game. From the very start where he could not control the ball to stopping Christie right on his tracks in the middle of a great run, the fullback did nothing right in the first 45 minutes.
Now you might think I am singling him out, but I have no choice. And I blame Clarke as much as O’Donnell for the shambolic first half Scotland had. There was no way Scotland should have been trailing at HT but that’s what you have when the manager is so ultra-conservative in his tactics and refuses to field his best team.
At HT, Clarke made a change. Che Adams on for Ryan Christie. However, O’Donnell was made to continue, as if to spite his critics and to show he can do it his way. While it was a bright start to the second half from Scotland (thanks to Adams), heartbreak soon followed. Schick scored what was probably the best goal of the tournament although Marshall shouldn’t have been so far away from his line. You can blame Hendry for conceding possession but to be fair he wanted to assert himself in the situation. A world class goal to go behind 2-0.
In the 65th minute, Lyndon Dykes had a fantastic chance to make it 2-1. He just had to put it anywhere apart from the goalkeeper but failed to do so. How Dykes did not score that I will never know. Chances came on coming but no one really tried taking the match by the scruff of the neck except for maybe Robertson.
So what does Steve Clarke do to respond to going 2-0 down? Bring on Callum McGregor. At that time, I conceded this was not happening.
Oh, and Clarke didn’t bring on Patterson and Gilmour, the two players who could have made a difference at all, despite being allowed 5 substitutes. It will sound harsh but that man cared more about his ego today than what was best for the national team.
As @boxing_rugby observed (and what we all felt), ”Played the Kilmarnock dinosaur way, contain and hope to steal the first goal so you can defend even more.”
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