It's the hope that kills you with Scotland - but the Tartan Army aren't done at Euro 2020 yet

Frequent Scotland followers have endured all this before. There is a common Tartan Army phrase, “it’s the hope that kills you,” which has never been more prevalent than right now.

Fans returned to Hampden for Scotland v Czech Republic.
Fans returned to Hampden for Scotland v Czech Republic.

The 2-0 defeat against Czech Republic at Hampden Park was a devastating way to open Euro 2020 after so much anticipation. Not to mention a 23-year absence from major international competitions.

The pre-tournament theme tune across Scotland was Yes Sir, I Can Boogie, but on the day the Scots missed their steps. Yet in so many ways it was all rather predictable.

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Scotland have done this before, albeit not for a while: Qualify for a World Cup or European Championship, suffer a stalled start on the biggest stage, then spend the rest of the group phase trying to play catch-up.

Scotland's squad for Euro 2020

The only difference this time is a brand new generation to torture, the youngsters who weren't born when the rest of us were suffering during France 98, Euro 96, Euro 92, Italy 90, and so on.

Now it should be stated that all is not lost after Patrik Schick’s two excellent strikes in Glasgow. The Czechs top Group D by a goal and Scotland are bottom by a goal, with England and Croatia in between.

There are two games remaining, offering Steve Clarke’s side a wide open opportunity to make history by reaching the knockout rounds. To do so, they will probably need to amass four points. It matters not whether they get one from England at Wembley on Friday and then three from Croatia at Hampden, or vice-versa.

Not conceding goals from 50 yards would also help. Schick’s second at Hampden was an exquisite bit of opportunism but against the Continent’s top countries it is a goal which makes Scotland appear rather wretched. Again, a familiar look in major tournaments.

The only option now is for Clarke and his coaching staff to pick themselves and the players up, then go again against England. The Tartan Army must do likewise. They are nothing if not resilient so that won’t be an issue.

Kieran Tierney’s fitness for Wembley is critical given he is arguably Scotland’s best player. Clarke has some decisions to make: Does he change goalkeeper and replace Derby County’s David Marshall with Hearts’ Craig Gordon?

Will James Forrest start at right wing-back ahead of Stephen O’Donnell, or will he go for youth in Nathan Patterson? In midfield, there is the dilemma of how and when to use Billy Gilmour. Many supporters want him in the starting line-up.

In attack, Che Adams and Kevin Nisbet are both pushing for starting slots as, once again, scoring goals looks like one of Scotland’s biggest problems. They had chances against the Czechs and didn’t convert. Schick had no such problem has he displayed his undoubted class.

There is no time for anyone in the Scottish camp to feel sorry for themselves. Wembley awaits, undoubtedly the biggest test of Clarke’s tenure as Scotland national coach.

As Kilmarnock manager, he made a useful habit of getting results away to bigger teams like Celtic and Rangers. That ultimately got him his current job. The whole country needs him to do his thing again.

What did you make of Scotland’s performance? Let us know in the comments below.