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Monday, July 15, 2024

The depressing numbers behind Scotland’s opening day Euro 2024 defeat

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Scotland could hardly have gotten their Euro 2024 campaign off to a worse start. 

Facing the hosting nation on the opening day of the tournament was always going to be a daunting task for Steve Clarke’s side, but Germany doled out a defeat so crushing that even their own fans were taken aback.

Die Mannschaft’s poor form over the past few years tempered expectations to a large degree. While results have improved under manager Julian Nagelsmann, he’s only had a few friendlies to imprint his vision on the squad ahead of the Euros.

The Germans were absolutely ruthless on Friday night, however. Florian Wirtz opened the scoring after just nine minutes, and it took just another nine minutes for Jamal Musiala to double their lead.

It was game, set and match before the break as Kai Havertz converted from the spot in stoppage time. Ryan Porteous saw red for the two-footed lunge that led to the penalty.

Shortly after replacing the Arsenal attacker, Nicolas Füllkrug made it four and he could have made it five had the Borussia Dortmund striker not strayed offside.

Scotland fans were given a brief reason to cheer when Antonio Rudiger diverted the ball into his own net late on, but Emre Can completed the humiliation with Germany’s fifth in the 93rd minute. The former Liverpool midfielder wasn’t even in the squad until a few days before the game.

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Key numbers behind Scotland opening day Euro 2024 defeat

A quick dive into the statistics doesn’t make for pretty reading. Scotland got a solitary shot off in the match, but failed to hit the target. It’s the first time the Jocks haven’t had a shot on target in a game at a major tournament since Euro 1992 against the Netherlands.

The 5-1 defeat is their worst at a major international tournament in 70 years, when they lost 7-0 to Uruguay at the 1954 FIFA World Cup. Ouch.

It’s a return to the bad old days when hammerings were a more regular occurrence. It’s the first time they’ve conceded five goals in a match since losing 5-1 to the USA in a friendly in 2012. You have to go back to 2003 for the last time they allowed five goals in a competitive fixture, losing 6-0 at home to the Netherlands in a Euro 2004 qualifier.

Porteous’ sending off sees him become just the second Scottish player to be sent off at a major tournament, along with Craig Burley in the 1998 World Cup against Morocco. It was the first time there’d been a sending off in the opening game of the Euros since 2012, when both Sokratis and Wojciech Szczęsny were sent off in the 1-1 draw between Poland and Greece.

Can Scotland still qualify for the Euro 2024 knockouts?

The defeat to Germany is not fatal, even though it might feel like it for the Scots. They still have to play Hungary and Switzerland; two wins would likely see them progress to the knockouts.

Four points from their next two games would likely be enough, as the four best third-placed teams will reach the round of 16. Qualification is still possible with just one win, but that would be dependent on how teams in other groups perform.

History, however, is not on their side. Scotland have appeared at eight World Cups and three European Championships prior to this summer, but have failed to get out of the group on each occasion.

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