England are set for the daunting prospect of travelling to Celtic Park and facing a cauldron-like atmosphere created by the Tartan Army who believe they can get one over on the old enemy south of the border. Roy Hodgson’s men will immediately know they are in for a game from kick-off, with Scotland brimming with confidence following the important 1-0 Euro qualifying win against Ireland. There promises to be no love lost when the teams take to the battlefield, particularly as England currently hold the bragging rights after their 3-2 victory at Wembley in August 2013. It could be a completely different outcome come the full-time whistle on Tuesday, as Gordon Strachan’s team are firing on all cylinders and will be passionately backed by their 12th man who could overpower England and take them by surprise. Pundits and others may have the Three Lions as slight favourites, but Scotland are in prime form to come away with a morale-boosting win.
Scotland have shown wonderful progression under Strachan in 2014, with World Cup winners Germany the only team to stop the rejuvenated team in their tracks through a narrow, and arguably undeserved, Euro 2016 qualifier victory. There is now a considerable attacking threat to compliment a solid defence, with attracting, free-flowing football becoming a hallmark of Scotland’s play. Shaun Maloney’s superb winner against Ireland illustrated the level of confidence flowing throughout the team, with an excellent set-piece move resulting in Maloney’s unstoppable shot. It was an invaluable three points in the context of Group D, but Scotland can now focus their attentions on gaining revenge against England in a game that will be considered much more than a friendly. There may be the temptation for Strachan to utilise the squad and rest some of Scotland’s stars, but on home territory in front of the Tartan Army against a fierce enemy, there would be little surprise if Scotland were at full strength at Celtic Park and take the game to England from the off.
Five consecutive victories may be the reason why England are considered favourites to beat Scotland, but the results merely paper over the cracks created by average performances that should not give the Tartan Army much to be concerned about. Hodgson may have instilled a professional approach that is producing the results, but England are there for the taking if Scotland are brave enough to take the game to them. The game may present an opportunity for Hodgson to give the likes of Ross Barkely, Calum Chambers and Saido Berahino a chance to shine at international level, while former Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster could be set for his first return to Celtic Park following his summer move to high-flying Southampton. Hodgson already knows the challenge that lays ahead for his team, but they could be overawed by Scotland if they are not up for the fight.