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Scotland: Clarke has a winning start, but more is needed to derail the new-look team. Spain

John McGinn is an admirable character not only for his ability to score goals for Scotland, but also for his candour in cutting through the PR and calling it as he sees it.

His assessment of the performance against Cyprus was straightforward. Not for him a celebration of a 16th goal for his country and a place among Scotland’s top seven all-time scorers. Nobody would have mistaken him for a cheerleader after a stodgy but ultimately satisfying 3-0 win.

He listed several things that could and should have been done better before checking himself and admitting that he was “a little moany.”

That was actually to his credit. He expected more from this team because they are capable of more. When you can find fault with a 3-0 victory, you’re doing well. A 3-0 home win against anyone a few years ago, maybe even a year ago or less, would have been hailed as an unqualified triumph, but Scotland’s standards have risen.

Scotland and Spain both start with 3-0 victories.
Shankland is called up by Scotland after Adams withdraws.
The last time they played an opener in a Euros campaign, they lost 3-0 to Kazakhstan. Since then, the world has changed for this team. They were desperate at the time. They’re becoming more discriminating. McGinn can complain all he wants. Some of the greatest players Scotland has ever produced were also world-class snobs.

Steve Clarke’s substitutions turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-0 lead, with Scott McTominay, Ryan Christie, and Lyndon Dykes increasing the intensity, threat, and execution. Scotland has won a European qualifying campaign opener at the fourth attempt. They’ve won three and drawn one of their last four competitive games, scoring eight goals and conceding one. They’ve had worse runs, to be sure.


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