Scotland self-destructs at Euro 2024

German national team logo
German national team logo

Coming into a killer of a tournament-opening match against the four-time World Cup winning hosts, Scottish coach Steve Clarke seemed unaware of why Toni Kroos came out of retirement for Germany or what a high-line press attempts to provide the team pressing.

The Scots allowed Kroos to control the first thirty minutes of play, resulting in two German goals, and then put Che Adams on the German string-puller. But the Scots continued to face from distance rather than contest their ball-possessing opponents and suffered a third goal and a deserved red card before halftime. Game over.

Germany did not come into this tournament with any real confidence but with a generalized hope that with the mix of soon-retiring talent and up-and-coming starlets, they could begin to build momentum toward reclaiming their storied pedigree. Scotland was coming off one of their best Euro-qualifying campaigns. But at game time the hosts knew what to do and the Scots had no clue.

Assisting the hosts, though, was the normal officiating largesse that ensured the local fans paid to see their home players progress into the farther reaches of the tourney. Throughout the first half, the entire German defense plus midfielder Robert Andrich, committed yellow-worthy strategic fouls which went unsanctioned by French referee Clement Turpin until the 31st minute when Andrich was awarded a yellow for his fourth card-worthy infraction.  

It is difficult to come out as the sacrificial lamb at any tournament, but the Scots managed to find multifaceted ways to play the role, and all of them accrued to their downfall. The Germans came out rough and focused, as expected, but found such little resistance they often seemed at odds as to how best to pile on the score. But that they did and the match, which was no contest from the moment the national anthems were sung, came to an end—mercilessly, overwhelmingly, and likely, for the Scots, conclusively ending their Euro before the cards reached home: 1-5.

Fox Sports, the English-language USA broadcaster of the 2024 Euro, teamed up Landon Donovan with Ian Darke, and the former managed a few moments of insight, from noticing the above-mentioned tactical blunder by Clarke to the fact that if the Scots could not reduce their goal differential deficit they might be out of the Euro after their first match. But in the second half, he returned to his platitude-laden commentary until the final whistle. Darke tried, and mostly succeeded, to carry out the announcing duties by feeding Donovan enough softballs to get him through the broadcast.

The two tournament takeaways tonight were, first, that Germany, save Kroos, did not play as splendidly as the scoreline would suggest and that their real test will come from the two B-level teams in their group. Secondly, had the Scots contested the match, as they did for a few minutes at the beginning of the second half, they might have made a game of it. Now, fortunately, their next two betters are only slightly so.

Shutterstock photo ID: 1106003972, by charnsitr.

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