Scotland fans have arrived in London in droves ahead of their Group D match against England at Wembley this evening.
Supporters amassed outside King’s Cross Station on Thursday night, singing, waving flags and setting off the occasional blue smoke bomb. They also gathered in numbers at Hyde Park, which looks set to become an unofficial fan zone.
The Tartan Army contingent is set to grow over the course of the day, though there will only be around 2,800 Scotland fans in attendance at the game.
While fans were advised not to make the journey to London without a ticket, many had already booked travel and accommodation.
It has been estimated that tens of thousands could ultimately decide to make the trip, packing out parks, pubs and bars across the city.
Someone was bound to bring it up
… if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If nobody mentions Gazza’s dentist’s chair celebration at Euro 96, are England really playing Scotland? Two of the great philosophical questions of our age, no doubt.
It’s tipping it down out there
… not that these Tartan Army veterans are remotely bothered.
Scotland fans still rolling into London
King’s Cross station remains the epicentre of Scotland fandom at the moment, though supporters are likely to disperse – either in the direction of Wembley or the nearest pub with a television – as we get closer to kick off.
England’s rivalry with Scotland in pictures
“The goalposts were scaled, the crossbar broken and large pieces of the pitch were transplanted home to Scotland as enduring souvenirs. There were 289 arrests and fines of £100 were dished out for disorderly behaviour at Bow Street Magistrates on the Monday for their part in what the papers called ‘The Battle of Wembley’. In truth it was more of an incursion than a stramash, by thousands of Bay City Rollers lookalikes buzzing on Tartan Special and the illicit joy of trespass…”
Want to read more about England’s famous meeting with Scotland in 1977, among other classic encounters? Here’s Rob Bagchi with 10 photos which tell the story of a 149-year-old footballing rivalry.
Clarke says it will be ‘really easy’ to motivate players
Asked about the magnitude of tonight’s game in his pre-match press conference, Clarke admitted that Scotland need no extra incentive to beat England.
“It’s a game, obviously, with a lot of historical significance,” he said. “It’s a game that the players all want to play in and what we have to do is make sure that we’re prepared properly for it.
“In terms of the team talk, the team talk really is to go through the tactical side of the game [and] the organisational side of the game. With the actual nuts and bolts of getting the players up for the match, it’s going to be really easy.
“We know it’s a big game, we know we need to get something from the game and that’s what we aim to do.”
Scotland fan update
Here at Victoria underground a large amount of Scottish fans – cans in hand, faux Burberry bucket hats on head, shorts to the knees – have been chanting on the platform.
“Everywhere we go, Scotland get battered,” is the refrain. You can’t help but admire the honesty.
Tierney fit to face England
In a positive development for Scotland manager Steve Clarke, Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney will be available for selection this evening after missing the 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic with a calf problem.
“It’s good news for Kieran, good news for us and the Scottish supporters,” said Clarke, who tends to play Tierney as a left-sided central defender in a back three.
“Hopefully we can back all that up with a good result. He has trained fully the last two days, so he is available for the whole game.”
… here’s England’s motivational pre-match montage, which is also good.
Goals, goals, goals
Here’s something to get Scotland fans in the mood. Everyone else can just enjoy the seventies hairstyles on show.
What did we tell you?
Do Baccara get royalties every time Scotland fans belt this one out? Because, if so, they’ll be raking it in.
Meanwhile, Scotland fans still having fun
Good vibes only here.
Met Police secure dispersal order
Around 20,000 ticketless Tartan Army fans have now descended on London for the biggest game between the home nations in 25 years.
Many were drinking at landmarks in the capital through the night, with one Scottish fan led away by police on Thursday evening after taking all his clothes off as celebrations got out of hand.
However, police say scenes so far have been largely peaceful. Most have been gathering in the Hyde Park and Leicester Square areas, but the Scotland Yard press office had not been alerted to any significant incidents as of 10am on Friday.
Police efforts to keep things calm today are aided by driving rain forecast all afternoon, and Westminster officers patrolling the area covering Trafalgar Square and Soho have secured a dispersal order to keep potential troublemakers at bay.
Officers tweeted that “due to the high profile” match “and the anticipated anti-social behaviour this may bring… a section 35 dispersal authority has been implemented”. A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed this gave officers increased powers to break up crowds if they become overly rowdy.
Officers said there was no current evidence to suggest a fight which had left one man in a critical condition on Little Newport Street, at the junction with Charing Cross Road, was football-related violence. “There have been no arrests and enquiries continue,” the Met Police added.
Just 2,800 seats from a reduced 22,500 capacity were sold officially to Scotland for the European Championship group match, but more are expected inside the stadium after a last-minute scramble via online touts.
… to sign up to hear Jason Burt, Sam Wallace and former Scotland star Ally McCoist preview this evening’s game at Wembley.
There’ll be laughs, there’ll be anecdotes and, while we can’t promise tears, it’s not out of the question.
Murray says Scotland have ‘got a chance’
Tennis star Andy Murray has said that Scotland have “got a chance” of progressing to the knockout rounds of Euro 2020.
Speaking before the Scots lost their opening game against the Czech Republic, he told Amazon Prime: “I think they’ve got a chance of getting through the group. It won’t be easy as it’s a pretty strong group.
“We think England and Croatia will be favourites to get through it, but I think they’ve got a chance of getting out the groups.”
Murray also revealed his favourite Scottish footballer. “It’s got to be Andy Robertson, I did something with him during the pandemic over Zoom and he seemed lovely,” he said.
“I just love watching him play. He’s got unbelievable energy, works really hard and also seems very humble so I’d take him.”
Uefa in talks with government
With Euro 2020’s knockout rounds set to kick off during the last weekend in June, Uefa have issued a statement about ongoing negotiations with the government over Covid restrictions on travelling fans.
“Uefa is delighted that the capacity at Wembley will go up to at least 50 per cent for the knockout round matches,” it read.
“At the moment, we are in discussions with the local authorities to try to allow fans of the participating teams to attend the matches, using a strict testing and bubble concept that would mean their stay in the UK would be less than 24 hours and their movements would be restricted to approved transport and venues only.
“We understand the pressures that the Government face and hope to be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion of our discussions on the matter.
“There is always a contingency plan but we are confident that the final week will be held in London.”
Want to read more about the Euro 2020 Coke wars?
… we’ve got all the latest on players rising up in rebellion against sponsors (or not) right here.
Ronaldo’s Coca-Cola feud rumbles on
Cristiano Ronaldo will not take part in Portugal’s latest European Championship press conference on Thursday – avoiding him being forced to sit behind more bottles of Coca-Cola.
Telegraph Sport has been told that, despite press conferences on the eve of matches tending to feature team captains, Ruben Dias will instead field questions ahead of his country’s game against Germany.
Ronaldo also skipped the official man-of-the-match press conference after Portugal’s 3-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday, instead conducting interviews in a mixed-zone environment away from Coke bottles.
On Thursday, Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane defended Coca-Cola’s involvement in football as the England manager and captain refused to join the Ronaldo-led protest against the drink on health grounds.
Ronaldo started a trend on Monday when he removed two Coke bottles from view during a press conference and made clear people should be drinking “agua” (water).
Yes Sir, I Can Boogie
We’re going to be hearing a lot of Baccara’s 1977 disco hit over the next 24 hours.
Leicester Square antics
If you could distil the feeling of an impending hangover into one photograph, this would be it.
There’s always one
It’s great to see everyone having fun, but clothes are still mandatory.
Scenes at King’s Cross last night
Nothing brightens up the miserable commute home like several hundred Scotland fans having a wild one.
Tartan Army on the march
… with Scotland fans arriving in London in droves ahead of tonight’s game at Wembley.
Southgate not fixated on Scotland rivalry
While England meeting Scotland at a major tournament has inevitably brought up talk of the Auld Enemy and all the rest of it, Gareth Southgate isn’t interested in playing up the historical significance of the fixture.
When it was put to him in his pre-match press conference that, given there have only been four meetings between the two sides since the turn of the millennium, the rivalry might not mean as much for his younger players, Southgate agreed.
“I think it’s a really good point. We, of course, know that we’ve got to compete, because otherwise you can get overrun in any game. But our focus has been on solving the tactical problems that Scotland pose with the way that they play, they way they defend [and] the way they attack.
“Our focus has got to be on our performance getting better with every game that we play. Of course, for the fans – and for us – it’s a big occasion, but it’s another opportunity for three points and our objective is qualification [for the round of 16], so that’s what we’ve got to focus on.
“I think in the past we’ve done that well. I think we did that very well on Sunday [against Croatia], Sunday was a big occasion for everybody and with the heat as well I thought we dealt with that really, really well.
“Every game [the younger members of the squad] play for England means a lot to them, but I think younger generations probably have a different view on those old rivalries.
“Of course, the history of the games… when we were growing up, the home internationals were among the few games you saw live at the end of the season. England playing Scotland every year was a massive occasion.
“Now it’s played less regularly. Obviously lots of the players are friends within their clubs, though we know the rivalry.
”I certainly haven’t felt the need to build that up with the players. I want them to approach it like any other game of football and focus on playing well, I don’t think we need to emphasise the other part too much.”
Kane won’t be distracted by Tottenham turmoil
Harry Kane has insisted that his full focus is on his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with England at Euro 2020 rather than his Tottenham Hotspur future or the club’s search for a manager.
Kane has also warned Scotland and the rest of England’s opponents that he believes he is a better player now than in 2018, when he won the Golden Boot at the World Cup in Russia.
Kane told Tottenham ahead of this tournament that he wanted to leave, while the club switched manager targets from Paulo Fonseca to Gennaro Gattuso on the eve of Friday night’s game against Scotland. The striker insists that nothing is diverting him from trying to make the most of a situation that he admits will probably never come around in his career again, with England effectively playing in a home tournament.
“It’s very rare to have a home tournament and, for me personally, this is as close as it’s going to get,” Kane said. “We’ve got to try to use that to our advantage as much as possible. That’s all I’m focused on.
“It’s obviously a massive tournament and I know how much it means to the country. We know we haven’t won a major trophy for a long time, so to try to achieve that with a lot of the games at Wembley, our home stadium, would be incredible.
“That’s all I’m focused on, that’s all the team are focused on, and we’ll do our very best to, as a first step, qualify and then, hopefully, go as far as possible after that.”
Kane’s form has come under scrutiny following England’s opening victory over Croatia, in which he did not score. But, having won the Premier League’s Golden Boot again this season, the 27-year-old believes he is better than ever.
Asked if he was a better player now than in 2018, Kane said: “I think so. I’ve got a lot more experience, my game understanding is a lot better and I feel like I’ve got better at knowing when to drop deep, when to run in behind and using that to my advantage.
“It’s not so easy for defenders – sometimes they don’t know whether to come all the way or stay back and you saw that this season, at club level, it worked pretty well.
“I’m a player who takes each game differently. I’ll assess the game as I’m playing and see what’s going to work best for the team and how I can help the team the most.
“But, for sure, over the past few years I’ve definitely become a better player and I’ll hopefully continue to do that over the next three years as well.”
Kane also claimed he would swap all of his Golden Boot awards and personal accolades to triumph in this tournament. “I’d trade them in to win the Euros this summer, of course,” he said. “I’ve said before that winning a team trophy, especially for our nation, would probably be the greatest highlight in my career.”