Saints at the Euros: Adams and Armstrong

By SFC Media time Thu 10 Jun International
Photo by Getty Images | Ché Adams

Our series of previews featuring the Southampton quartet set to represent their countries at EURO 2020 concludes with a look at Scottish duo Ché Adams and Stuart Armstrong…

Road to the Euros

Qualification was no mean feat for the Scots, who will take part in their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup thanks to a pair of penalty shoot-out victories in the play-offs.

Whilst Belgium and Russia ran away with Group I, the Nations League offered a second chance for the Tartan Army, who topped their section to earn a home semi-final with Israel and a trip to Serbia to decide their fate, with both ties going the distance as Scotland converted all 10 of their spot-kicks over the two games to advance.

Since then, they finished second behind Czech Republic in the 2020 Nations League campaign and are unbeaten in their first three World Cup qualifiers.

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Playoff Final - Serbia v Scotland - Rajko Mitic Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia - November 12, 2020 Scotland players celebrate after winning the match REUTERS/Marko Djurica
Scotland celebrate qualifying for their first EUROS since 1996 in dramatic fashion

Prospects

Scotland were victorious home and away against the Czechs in the autumn, and victory in their Group D opener at Hampden Park would give them a glorious chance to progress to the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time ever.

That first match is key, with trickier tests against England and Croatia lying in wait, but this feels like a genuine opportunity for Steve Clarke’s side to make history.

Whilst sneaking through in third would guarantee facing a group winner in the last 16, if Scotland can finish second they will face the runners-up from Group E, which could mean a Saints showdown against Jan Bednarek’s Poland.

Fixtures

Monday 14th June
Scotland vs Czech Republic
Hampden Park
BBC, 2pm BST

Friday 18th June
England vs Scotland
Wembley
ITV, 8pm BST

Tuesday 22nd June
Croatia vs Scotland
Hampden Park
ITV, 8pm BST

Soccer Football - World Cup Qualifiers Europe - Group F - Scotland v Faroe Islands - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain - March 31, 2021 Scotland's Che Adams celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Adams celebrates scoring his first Scotland goal against Faroe Islands in March

The coach

A long-serving defender at Chelsea, Clarke returned to the club where he spent 11 years as a player to coach the youth teams, before becoming assistant manager to José Mourinho, and later Gianfranco Zola and Kenny Dalglish at West Ham and Liverpool respectively.

His first job in management came relatively late, taking the reins at West Brom aged 48 in 2012, leading the Baggies to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League.

He later took charge of Reading and Kilmarnock, where he finished third and qualified for Europe, winning Manager of the Year in Scotland en route to taking the national team job in May 2019.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 25: Stuart Armstrong of Scotland runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Xaver Schlager of Austria during the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying match between Scotland and Austria on March 25, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Jan Kruger - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
Armstrong can be a game-changer for Scotland, but may start from the bench

Players to watch

Whilst many Scottish onlookers have rued the fact that the team’s two star players, Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, are left-backs, Clarke has found a way to make it work and make that flank a major strength of his team.

Elsewhere, Scott McTominay has excelled in both midfield and central defence, while John McGinn has 10 goals in his last 20 appearances for his country.

Adams has made a strong start to his international career, scoring twice since his debut in March, and will be pushing for a starting berth either alongside or instead of QPR’s Lyndon Dykes. Armstrong, despite a thoroughly impressive season at St Mary’s, will have to make an impact from the bench.

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