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Scotland reporter notebook: Steve Clarke's side have a mountain to climb to make history at Euro 2024

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As Scotland look to recover from their nightmare start to Euro 2024, Sky Sports News reporter Luke Shanley assesses their chances of making it past the group stages for the first time...

Ouch! That was sore. The focus of world football was on Munich on Friday, Scotland were centre stage and boy did we get stage fright.

From start to finish, we were not at the races. We didn't get near Germany in all aspects of the game. No player got pass marks and it was an awful night for Scotland.

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Scotland conceded early goals against Germany

Scotland were left humbled as they conceded five goals for the first time in a competitive match in more than 20 years


We were playing the hosts, we were playing a Germany side that is littered with talent and we did go down to 10 men, but the reality is 10 men or 11 men, we got a hammering.

Let's not forget though, Scotland can still get out of this group, but it will be difficult.

Early in Steve Clarke's tenure, Scotland did lose back-to-back games 4-0 against Belgium and Russia but that was the low point and start of the resurgence that has witnessed Scotland reaching back-to-back European Championships.

Callum McGregor said Switzerland and Hungary will "smell blood" given Scotland's performance against Germany and he might be right, but it is about how Scotland put right the many wrongs from Friday. Clarke addressed the media on Sunday, he didn't have to but wanted to.

He wanted to put the negativity of Germany to bed so we can all move on and focus on the huge game against Switzerland.

In reality, it was always going to be the case that Scotland would probably lose to Germany and focus would shift to the Switzerland and Hungary games. The nature of the performance and result in Munich means that you can't simply write off what happened against Germany.





Ryan Porteous was sent off for this tackle on Ilkay Gundogan

Ryan Porteous was sent off shortly before half-time for his follow-through on Ilkay Gundogan

Defensively Scotland must improve. Looking back to the start of the qualification campaign and Scotland won their first five games keeping four clean sheets, conceding just once to an Erling Haaland penalty in Oslo. That included the 2-0 win over Spain at Hampden Park which was an excellent example of getting the game plan right.

Scotland need to somehow rediscover that form and defensive resilience. Scotland have conceded 26 goals since then keeping just one clean sheet, that was against Gibraltar earlier this month in Faro.

Scotland were up against tough opponents in some of the friendlies, they conceded three to England, four to France and another four against Netherlands. Changes were made during those games too but when it really mattered against Germany, they were 2-0 down in the opening 20 minutes. Clarke needs to change things at the back anyway due to Ryan Porteous' red card.

The Scotland boss said he had to give Porteous a cuddle to show his support as he did to others in the squad but also had to "kick some backsides" too.

Will Clarke change formation and go to a back four? That is an option at his disposal, but he was giving nothing away in an otherwise open media conference in which he showed his dry wit. Many feel Billy Gilmour will come back in after only featuring as a substitute on Friday. All the players will have a point to prove.

Just look at the last Euros when Scotland lost their opening game to Czech Republic at Hampden Park and had to go to Wembley and get a least a point despite being written off. They got the point and could have earned all three on another night as they clung on to hopes of getting out of the group.





Will Billy Gilmour be handed a Scotland start against Switzerland?

It wasn't to be in the end, but it will require something like that to keep alive hopes of the four points Clarke talks about needing to progress. Remember at Wembley, Clarke was bold. Two up front, Gilmour made his first competitive start and Keiran Tierney was back from injury. The perfect example of a phrase he used on Thursday, "respect everyone, fear no one". They need to prove it now and not just say it.

The last time Scotland won a game at a major championship was Euro 96 at Villa Park against Switzerland. Ally McCoist's cracker allied with England's comfortable lead at Wembley against Netherlands had us believing we could qualify out of the group that night, but we would be eliminated on goals scored after Patrick Kluivert squeezed in his effort through David Seaman's legs. Talk about bittersweet.

This time it has to be no regrets; it has to be a positive result.

The Scotland players had some downtime on Sunday and went up the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. Reaching the peak is one thing, they now have to climb a big footballing mountain, but they still have the chance to make history and prove the doubters wrong.

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