• Ruaraidh Britton

Do or die - Time for the Scots to show their ruthlessness

The scenarios were all laid out in front of us. We sat and did the maths and calculated the outcomes and how we would tackle every obstacle thrown at us. And we got them. Austria beat Ukraine, and Denmark pulled off one of the greatest games this tournament will see. Now, there’s just one scenario left that needs tackling, and that’s a team of highly talented Croats, who’s golden generation is wilting away by the year. The stage is our own back yard, Hampden Park, and the objective is simple. Win by any means necessary. Thumping 5-0, or 95th minute winner at 1-0, or even prevailing from the chaos of a 3-2, the result stays the same. Scotland will reach the knockout stages of a tournament for the first time ever, and the battle cry from the five million of us couldn’t be any louder.

We had a tricky start after the Czech’s brought us back down to earth, but after last Friday’s 0-0 draw with England, we should be carrying confidence in abundance. Croatia couldn’t crack them, and we frustrated and dominated a game they were meant to win. Scotland had one of their best ever games on Friday, and it was evident that we weren’t going to go out on a whimper and we would fight till our last breath. England and Wales have qualified, and the sickening feeling of being left behind will haunt us for years, so it is truly do or die tonight, and we have to show Croatia a ruthlessness up front and an aggression that they can’t cope with. Fight fire with fire and remind them just what we are made of. Premier League winners, Champions League winners, Scottish invincibles, the lot. We have the talent and the experience and knowledge with a stellar game plan.

Luka Modric has been relatively quiet this tournament, but that doesn’t mean we can let him slip under the radar. John McGinn, Callum McGregor and whoever fills in for the immense Billy Gilmour has a hell of a task tonight of locking him down and providing for Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams who we have to pray will remember how to score. The players will know after last night there is no fall back option and there is no plan B if we fail to hit the target. Scotland have to win and cannot go through by any other means, and the Croats have the exact same situation. From World Cup runners up, to group stage dropouts would be a sensational failure from Modric and company, and they will know that, so Scotland can’t expect an easy test.

Defence is an issue for them at the minute, as they have looked uncomfortable at times, especially against England, so we have to hit them hard and get something on target to trouble them. Especially if Ivan Perisic is fancying his chances against David Marshall. They looked dead and buried against the Czechs, but his strike from out of nowhere kept them in the group, and that’s the fine margins we can’t let slip. Scott McTominay, Grant Hanley, Kieran Tierney and Marshall will be well aware of the threat that is coming, but they need to stay 100% focused to avoid any mishaps that could end our summer. The Croats will also be well aware of what Andy Robertson and Stephen O’Donnell can do, but if our back three can stay resilient and get the ball away to those two to progress us up the field then the possibilities for goals should be endless with a five man midfield charging at their defence.

There’s only so much analysis we can do for a game like this, but sometimes situations take tactics and chew them up and spit them out. Tonight could be so cagey that our hearts hit the floor, tonight could be an adrenaline fuelled thriller that sees the winner take it all. Both teams have the same objective, but the pressure is on Scotland with such a young, talented, and impressive squad despite being away from tournaments since the 1990’s. It would be such a disappointment not to get through this group when a last

sixteen place is guaranteed, but all that stands between us and numerous potential trips is 90 minutes against an out of sorts Croatia. Sweden, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, all these big names lined up with a potential clash; the Tartan Army deserves an occasion to remember. All we need is one big performance and one last fight to show the rest of the Euros we didn’t just come to take part. No pressure eh lads.