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The Third Leader: Pride and glory

The eyes of English football will be on events in Tel Aviv this evening, where a win for Russia over Israel in a European Championship qualifier will, barring a miracle, end the hopes of Steve McClaren's men of reaching next year's finals (and in all likelihood will end the coach's unhappy period in charge). The prospect of England failing to reach a major finals for the first time since 1994 is a depressing one, so let us instead turn our attention to the match at Hampden Park, where Scotland are seeking the win over Italy that would guarantee their place in the 2008 tournament.

Many people blame England's shortcomings on an excessive number of foreign players in the Premiership. Yet the pool of Scotsmen from which their national team is chosen is likewise limited. Beating the world champions will not be easy, and the Scots have a habit of stumbling when glory is within reach. Then again, what would England give to be in their position today?