GLASGOW, Scotland – England will not use Tuesday’s 150th anniversary friendly against Scotland as a chance to experiment, manager Gareth Southgate said ahead of the Hampden Park clash.
Southgate’s side were held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine in Poland on Saturday, the first time they have dropped points in their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.
A languid display received criticism in some quarters and an in-form Scotland will provide a stiff test for England in a match marking the 150th anniversary of the first edition of the oldest fixture in international football.
“We’ve got to find the right balance of physical freshness, experience, finding out about some players, winning, playing well, the usual things that are expected of us,” Southgate told a news conference.
“The first thing is we can’t fiddle around with the team, because we’re playing a top level side who are going to be at full tilt and giving us a really high level challenge. You can’t overly experiment because that would be ridiculous.”
Scotland are top of their Euro 2024 qualifying group with a maximum 15 points and could even clinch a place at the finals on Tuesday if Norway and Georgia draw.
The last time England and Scotland met was at Wembley in the delayed Euro 2020 tournament with the visitors having the better of a 0-0 draw. Southgate said they were an improving side.
“I thought they were excellent that night. Like all teams as you work for longer, you get more experiences together, you go through big nights together, successes, disappointments,” he added said.
“They’ve grown through that and the individual players have got more experience of big matches. They’ve got the confidence from some big results, particularly recent games.”
England will wear a commemorative pre-match top ahead of what is being called the 150th Anniversary Heritage Match — the shirt bearing the original crest from the first Scotland against England meeting in 1872 that ended 0-0.
Since then the fixture has been played more than 100 times with England winning 48 and Scotland 41.
Asked for his earliest recollection of the fixture, Southgate said: “My first memory is some of your mates taking the goalposts at Wembley back in 1977.”
That was a reference to the now defunct Home International Championship fixture won by Scotland that prompted a pitch invasion by the Tartan Army.
“It’s a fabulous game. It’s great. I know there’s a rivalry and I know people will be wary of it crossing a boundary but it’s a brilliant sporting rivalry and it’s a great game to be involved in.” REUTERS
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