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Scotland can make history at Euro 2024 with pressure on Germany but Ally McCoist is devastated by one ‘massive loss’

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Scotland are back at a European Championship and ready to boogie as they prepare to open Euro 2024 against Germany.

And talkSPORT’s very own Ally McCoist is excited about what the nation he represented 61 times and at two major tournaments, scoring 19 goals, can do.

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Scotland qualified for Euro 2024 in emphatic style – but can they keep up the momentum?Credit: Getty

Having picked up just one point and one goal at the last Euro 2020, they will be hungry for more this time around as they look to make it out of the group stages for the first time ever.

And Steve Clarke’s 26-man-squad will certainly not be on their Euro 2024 journey alone.

Though not perhaps the strongest side on paper, Scotland look set to be one of the loudest and best represented at the tournament.

Back in May, it was estimated 200,000 Scotland fans were expected to make the trip to Germany one way or another. That figure represents almost 4 per cent of the entire population of Scotland.

With a dedicated Tartan Army on their heels, Scotland will play at least three games out in Germany.

But do they stand a chance of making history? Will they go further and perhaps set up a meeting with their old foes, the English?

Could they perhaps do the unthinkable, and pull off a shock win over Germany?

Scotland legend and talkSPORT host McCoist broke down exactly what we can expect from his former national team as they look to make their mark upon Euro 2024.

German manager Julian Nagelsmann is tasked with leading his side to success at a home Euros

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German manager Julian Nagelsmann is tasked with leading his side to success at a home EurosCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Can Scotland make it out of their group?

Drawn in a group alongside hosts Germany, Switzerland and Hungary, Clarke’s side certainly go into the tournament with an outside chance of making it out of their group.

Liverpool star Andy Robertson reveals the text he received from Jurgen Klopp ahead of Scotland’s opening game of Euro 2024 against Germany

They face Germany in Munich in the tournament opener on Friday, June 14, before travelling to Cologne to take on Switzerland on Wednesday, June 19 and finally finishing off their group matches in Stuttgart with a showdown against Hungary on Sunday, June 23.

There is good news for the Tartan Army though: in addition to the top two in each group, the four best third-place finishers across the groups also make it through to the knockout rounds.

Switzerland are not short of talent heading into their campaign

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Switzerland are not short of talent heading into their campaignCredit: Getty
And Hungary boast names including Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai

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And Hungary boast names including Liverpool’s Dominik SzoboszlaiCredit: Getty

So can Scotland make it out of the group stages of a major tournament for the first time in their history?

“Yes they can,” says talkSPORT’s very own McCoist.

The former Scottish striker has been filled with optimism after an impressive qualification campaign, which saw Scotland win five out of their eight qualifying matches, picking up a fantastic 2-0 win against Spain and a 2-1 victory over Norway along the way.

They eventually finished second in their group, a comfortable six points ahead of closest rivals Norway, as they Euro qualification for a second consecutive tournament.

It is the first time since 1996 that the nation have achieved that feat.

“I’ve got to say, the qualifying campaign was excellent,” McCoist said. “Some brilliant performances, particularly the Spain game at home. Scotland were excellent. Comfortable victory against Rodri and Spain. (Scott) McTominay – different level. The away victory in Norway, 1-0 down, two goals, brilliant Kenny McLean getting the winner. I’m really so pleased at the campaign they had to get here.”

But Scotland undoubtedly go into their group as the underdogs – and there are factors that McCoist admitted may hinder the side on their quest to make the last-16.

An impressive victory over Spain showed exactly what Scotland could be capable of

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An impressive victory over Spain showed exactly what Scotland could be capable ofCredit: Getty
And their 2-1 comeback win over Norway will have filled them with more hope

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And their 2-1 comeback win over Norway will have filled them with more hopeCredit: AFP
Scotland will have to contend with the likes of Kai Havertz in their opening game

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Scotland will have to contend with the likes of Kai Havertz in their opening gameCredit: Getty

“I’m a little bit concerned. We’ve not got a big enough squad that we can carry injuries – and we’ve got question marks over injuries,” he said. “Right-back position: Aaron Hickey’s out, Nathan Patterson’s out.

“Grant Hanley hasn’t played all season with an Achilles (injury) and things like that. Lewis Ferguson – who’s just won the best midfielder in Serie A – big loss, massive loss! But that area, the midfield, is probably our strongest area.”

In every challenge lies an opportunity though, and Scotland’s 26-player squad have the chance to cause the first great upset of the tournament when they walk out at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

“The Germany game is a great game for us because it’s the opening game,” says McCoist. “Germany have obviously had a bit of form and 100 per cent they’ll be deservedly favourites – but it’s a good game for us to open with.

“If we can beat either Switzerland or Hungary I think we’ve got a good chance of qualifying and I actually think we can. I genuinely do. The Swiss are a good team, obviously some great players like [Manuel] Akanji and [Granit] Xhaka – who’s had a terrific season, Fabian Schar – boys like that. They’re a good side – Hungary are a good side.

“(But) I don’t think either of them are brilliant – neither are we – but I don’t think either of them are brilliant.”

How will Scotland line-up against Germany?

While Scotland would do well to shore up a strong defensive line against a prolific German side, their biggest issues lie elsewhere.

Shankland sparked worry when he left a training session early on the eve of the tournament, but has since returned

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Shankland sparked worry when he left a training session early on the eve of the tournament, but has since returned

“Scoring goals will be our problem, that’s the problem we’ve got,” he admitted.

Asked whether Scotland would line-up with one or two up front in their first group match against the hosts, McCoist was certain about the direction Clarke would go in.

“They’ll start with one. Absolutely no chance he’s going to start with two! Particularly the opening game against Germany,” he said.

Having lost their last three meetings, McCoist believes the team need to choose the right forward for the job if they are to break their losing streak.

“I think the best finisher we’ve got is Lawrence Shankland, I genuinely do. He can finish, there’s no doubt about it. He plays for Hearts, but he scores big goals against Rangers, scores big goals against Celtic and he can score international goals as we’ve seen. He’s the best finisher.”

But despite Shankland’s skill, according to McCoist, the team need to go a different way in their first match.

“So just to totally contradict myself, I don’t think he’ll start against Germany. I actually don’t, because you’re talking about occupying centre-backs where Germany have more possession. We’ll need to attempt to get up the park, we need to try and get a free kick, we need to try and give our defence a break. Che Adams is the one that can go in behind.”

Southampton forward Adams has 6 international goals in 30 appearances

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Southampton forward Adams has 6 international goals in 30 appearances

Injury to Lyndon Dykes means Shankland and the rest of the squad will have to step up in his absence.

And with 59 goals in 94 appearances across his last two seasons alone, Shankland certainly seems no poor substitute.

So why the reservations from McCoist?

“I’m not sure against Germany we can get (our strikers) the service,” he admitted. “That’s the doubt I would have. And if it’s a criticism of the team, then so be it. I just think against Germany, we’re going to have to buy time, we’re going to have to play cagey.

“(But) against Switzerland and against Hungary – get him in! I think you’ve got to play him.”

Can Scotland shock the hosts?

The 20-somethings who make up a vast proportion of Clarke’s squad will likely not remember the last time that Scotland took points of Germany.

The experience of captain Andy Robertson will be vital as Scotland look to keep a tight back line

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The experience of captain Andy Robertson will be vital as Scotland look to keep a tight back lineCredit: Getty
Along with Aston Villa's John McGinn who will offer much-needed experience up front

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Along with Aston Villa’s John McGinn who will offer much-needed experience up frontCredit: Getty

That occasion was a 1-1 draw in 2003 – and they have not actually beaten Germany since a 1-0 friendly victory since 1999.

McCoist believes they have to trust in their ability to take advantage of openings in the game.

“We’ll get out, we’ll be really well-organised,” he said. “I think our problem is going to be, as it has been for hundreds of years, scoring goals. I think the midfield is the strongest part of the side. We’ll have to defend well – that’s it.

“You absolutely never know. I am of the train of thought, I’m happy with playing Germany first. A lot of people, and I understand it, say they’d rather play them in the third game because they think Germany might win their opening two games, and they want to play them in the third game.

“I don’t – I just think the focus is all on you: opening game, Germany, clearly there’s pressure and I know they handle pressure very well, generally speaking. Pressure is all on Germany to win the game. I think it’s a good game for us.”

But with Germany having performed excellently in recent friendlies, McCoist is under no illusions about where the momentum lies.

“I’m maybe going to be a wee bit negative myself, but maybe three, four, five months ago that might have been the case (that Scotland could have caused an upset) but I’ve watched Germany the last two or three months and in the last couple of friendlies.

“They had a great performance against France, very good against France. They beat the Netherlands as well. I’m thinking to myself, they’re just getting a little bit of form.”

A mouth-watering meeting with England could be on the cards if Scotland can make it out of the group

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A mouth-watering meeting with England could be on the cards if Scotland can make it out of the groupCredit: Getty
Gareth Southgate and Clarke may turn rivals

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Gareth Southgate and Clarke may turn rivalsCredit: Getty

It will be up to the Tartan Army to disrupt the German flow.

What might Scotland’s route beyond the groups look like?

Scotland’s most likely route out of the group is the scenario which would see them qualify as one of the best third-place finishers.

Naturally, this would also probably give them hardest set of knockout matches.

They would face the winner of either Group B, E or F, with Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal most likely to be among the options.

Should they somehow manage to win Group A, they would face the runners-up in England’s group – widely predicted to be Denmark.

Another option would see Scotland finishing second in the group, which would set up a meeting with the winner of Group B – the unenviable task of facing holders Italy, Spain or Croatia could then await.

Make it through that, and things could suddenly get very interesting indeed as Scotland could find themselves face-to-face with the Netherlands, Belgium or – the clash everyone is desperate to see – England.

You have been warned, England fans...

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You have been warned, England fans…Credit: Getty

But McCoist has put Three Lions fans: he has cautioned it is not the Tartan Army who should fear that particular meeting.

As he cheekily warned England fans: “You’ll be wanting to avoid us, don’t worry!”

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