Scotland prepared for Euro 2020 qualification ‘the hard way’, John McGinn claims

The Scots were beaten by Czech Republic in their group opener.

Andy Newport
Wednesday 16 June 2021 16:35
Euro 2020: Daily briefing

Scotland took the long road to reach Euro 2020 and John McGinn insists Steve Clarke’s men can go the distance again to qualify for the knockout stages.

Monday’s 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic was a deflating display that let the air out of the mood of excitement that had built up in the approach to the nation’s first major tournament since 1998.

They now need at least a point when they travel to face England at Wembley on Friday if they are to have any realistic chance of escaping Group D.

But having put the Tartan Army through the mire with their battling win on penalties over Serbia in the play-offs to book their place at the tournament, McGinn reckons the supporters should be strapping themselves in again for another nail-biting thrill ride as he backed his side to march on.

“Monday was a false start in terms of the result,” said the Aston Villa midfielder. “The important thing was to try to get at least a point and set us off in the group.

England v Scotland graphic

“That would have been the easy way but it never seems to happen with Scotland.

“If we had done it the easy way in Serbia it would have been a 1-0 victory and everyone would have been in their beds before midnight.

“But we decided to let Serbia get a goal and do it the tricky way. Hopefully we can follow the same path and do it the Scottish way – or the hard way if you like.

“The manager made it clear before the group that if the first result doesn’t go our way we just focus on the next one.

“Obviously the format gives you an opportunity for all three games but we can’t affect other scorelines or results.

“We know what’s needed at Wembley – we’ll go there for the three points and take it from there.

“Is Wembley the perfect game to bounce back with? You could say that. We’re extremely disappointed. The whole occasion on Monday is what we’ve dreamed about since we were young.

“But there was a wee feeling we’ve let the nation down because we wanted a positive result.

“But the breaks didn’t go for us. Having analysed it, it definitely could have gone our way, so the confidence is still there. I can only speak for myself but I wish the game was tomorrow.”

Patrik Schick’s incredible double inspired the Czechs to victory at Hampden.

Goalkeeper David Marshall has since found himself in the firing line after being caught out hopelessly up field as he allowed the Bayer Leverkusen forward to fire home his second from 50 yards.

But McGinn cannot believe there are critics out there pointing the finger at the Derby player when it was Marshall’s spot-kick save from Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic that ensured the team could re-emerge from their two-decade stint out in the cold.

Asked if Clarke’s squad had rallied round the 36-year-old, McGinn hit back: “There was no need. This was a goal that will be talked about for years to come.

“I was right behind it. It still gives me nightmares watching it swing round. It was an absolute wondergoal.

“If you’re asking me how he is he must be getting some criticism for it which I don’t quite believe.

John McGinn (left) feels he let the Tartan Army down with Monday's defeat

“We wouldn’t be holding this press conference if it wasn’t for Marsh – his penalty heroics got us here and overall in the game Marsh was excellent.

“He’s a top goalkeeper and that opinion won’t change from us players. I’m sure he’ll put in a good performance on Friday night.”

Few outside of Scotland will be giving Clarke’s team a chance in London – and those numbers will shrink again if Kieran Tierney fails to shake off the niggle which kept him out against the Czechs.

But McGinn warned his side should not be underestimated.

Is Wembley the perfect game to bounce back with? You could say that. We're extremely disappointed

John McGinn

“I think we’d always be underdogs no matter if we won on Monday or not,” he said. “They’ve got a population of 55million – we’ve got a population of five million.

“They’ve got world-wide superstars all through their squad, so we’ll always be underdogs. But hopefully that will suit us.

“We’ve got a few wee superstars ourselves so hopefully we can play well and cause them problems.

“Kieran is one of the best full-backs/left centre-backs in the world at the moment for me. We’ll see how he is towards Friday and hopefully he can help us on the night.”