Scotland face a huge task at Wembley
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Scotland do not need reminding that the odds are against them when they play England at Wembley. In fact, they will relish the chance to usurp the Auld Enemy on their home patch and play the role of underdogs.
The reasons England are strong favourites are straightforward: it is a simple matter of player quality and squad depth and the disparity in wealth between both nations’ football systems.
Assessing the two squads, it is clear that there is a gulf in experience in elite level competitions. Most obviously, before their opening game defeat at the hands of Czech Republic, Scotland’s players had a grand total of zero appearances at international tournaments. Scotland’s squad averages just 18.5 international caps per player, the least experienced in the tournament, although interestingly England’s squad is the fourth most inexperienced with just 20.8 caps per player.
There is a stark difference though, between the two squads’ experience in Premier League and Champions League football. Gareth Southgate’s squad is one of England’s youngest in tournament history but has 3,327 Premier League appearances between them, which is more than 127 per player. Scotland on the other hand, has just 968 Premier League appearances between them which is a little more than 27 per player. 189 of those Premier League appearances are supplied by Andy Robertson.
The gulf in numbers: Scotland’s squad lacks experience in elite competition
A fatuous point you could argue given Scotland will always have more players playing in the Scottish Premiership than England, but not entirely irrelevant. There is also a considerable difference when Champions League appearances are compared. England’s squad has 364 appearances combined, including seven involved in last season’s final between Manchester City and Chelsea. Scotland’s squad has just 115 Champions League appearances combined which is just 4.4 per player.
Scotland’s lack of a reliable goalscorer has also been highlighted as a key weakness. When we consider top-flight goals scored across both squads, including in the Scottish Premiership, England still emerge on top. England have 520 top-flight goals between them, with Harry Kane providing 166 of them, which works out as 20 per player. Despite James Forrest and Ryan Christie’s goals for Celtic, Scotland lag behind at just 13.6 top flight goals per player.
The gulf in numbers: Scotland’s lack of reliable goalscorers laid bare
The gulf is wider when it comes to international goals. Scotland’s entire squad have just 36 international goals between them, with midfielder John McGinn the only player to reach double figures. Che Adams only made his Scotland debut in the build-up to the Euros so they need him to get off the mark quickly. England are reliant on Kane for goals, but do at least have Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford in double figures.
At the risk of highlighting the price of everything and the value of nothing, the transfer fees accumulated by both squads also highlights the disparity between the nations’ footballing ecosystems. By Telegraph Sport estimates, England’s squad has accumulated more that £464 million in fees with Scotland’s squad amassing a little more than £100 million. A quarter of that total comes from Kieran Tierney’s transfer from Celtic to Arsenal in 2019. England’s total could be inflated further in the next few months should Kane and Jadon Sancho complete big money moves.
The gulf in numbers: Transfer fees accumulated by England and Scotland squads
Fortunately for Steve Clarke though, football is played on grass not on balance sheets. And that’s what keeps us all tuning in.