Scotland is making a return to the European Championships (Euro 2020) after a 25-year hiatus and former midfielder Donald Hutchison feels the side has a strong chance of making it into the knockout stage.
“Scotland comes into the Euros with good momentum, loads of confidence and fine form. I think we’ll go through the group stages and can aim for the quarterfinals. We can get there with a little bit of luck in terms of who we meet, but we can get through the group stage for sure,” he told Sportstar.
Scotland is drawn alongside Croatia, England and the Czech Republic in Group D. Scotland had lost to England in the group stage back in 1996, but Hutchison hopes the Scots can emerge victorious this time around.
“England has problems at the back and we’re not sure who’s going to be fit. Someone like Jude Bellingham is an amazing player, but he’s only 17. So to ask him to do a brilliant job and be one of the best players in the tournament, at 17, is a big ask. Some players are fighting for their fitness, like Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire.
“I think we’ve got to use that [uncertainty in the England camp to our advantage]. It’s not going to be easy, but we’ve got to use it. Scotland has got to try and use the emotion of the game, I think that’s where we’re good. If it turns into a slower-paced game and England dominates the ball, then they could beat Scotland. But if Scotland plays with loads of emotion and loads of fire and keeps the pace as high as possible, I reckon we’ve definitely got a chance,” he said.
Hutchison, who made 26 appearances for the national team, is all praise for the young Scotland side, which will be led by former Chelsea star Steve Clarke. “We’ve got people like Che Adams, who is quick, looks sharp and had a good Premier League season. We’ve got Scott Mctominay who could play the central midfield role and Billy Gilmour from Chelsea, who is an excellent midfield player. We’ve got Kieran Tierney and Andy Robinson….it’s a very good squad. A very young, confident, vibrant and hungry squad.”
While France will be out to claim the rare double after winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will be hungry to defend its European crown. Hutchison feels France has the upper hand.
“I think France is the clear favourite. But I think there is a group of teams — England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain — behind them that could all win. These are the teams that can go deep into the tournament,” added Hutchison, who is backing Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku to win the Golden Boot.
– Need to be vigilant on the COVID-19 front –
The Euro 2020 has been rocked by multiple coronavirus cases. Spain and Sweden have each had two players test positive, while Russia’s Andrey Mostovoy was removed from the squad after contracting the virus.
Hutchison feels the players and all the members attached to the team need to be extremely vigilant. “It’s going to be difficult to manage. It might just be inevitable that one or two players catch it during the tournament. The doctors, management and staff around the team are going to have to be vigilant. If anyone is unfortunate to catch COVID, then they have to isolate, which will have an impact on the team and impact on the group. But then it maybe gives a chance for someone else and some youngsters to step in and play more games than he thought he was probably going to play, he said.
When asked if it was wise of the UEFA to host the Euro 2020 across nations, he said, “We can’t go back [in time[. No one knew COVID was coming. But ideally, it might have been best to have the tournament and one country. But it was too far down the line and it’s something that we’ve just got to try and embrace now. We all want a good tournament and want the best players to play. Let’s hope all the players remain COVID free.”
Watch UEFA EURO 2020 LIVE on Sony Ten 2 (English) and Sony Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels from June 12.