How Celtic can contribute to Scotland’s Euro 2024 chances

How Can Celtic Contribute to Scotland’s Euro 2024 Chances?

Scotland manager Steve Clarke. Photo: Andrew Milligan

Not since they scored the opening goal of the World Cup against Brazil in 1998 have Scottish fans been so excited about a major tournament. Boss Steve Clarke has put the Tartan Army back on the international map. There is a unity and togetherness about this Scottish squad for Euro 2024 which they will need given the quality of their group opponents.

The national team walk out at the Allianz Arena on 14 June to play the hosts Germany, hoping to claim a fourth tournament victory. It will be a stop-the-clock moment. Clarke has masterminded a brilliant qualification campaign where they beat Erling Haaland’s Norway to the second qualification spot. There was only one defeat and that was after a decent performance in Seville. Scotland have stood up well to one of the Euro’s top seeds twice.

This has been far more impressive than their Euro 2020 qualification which contained five losses and penalty shoot-out qualification by the back door. Clarke’s men beat the Norwegians in Oslo with a very late Kenny McLean goal. Notably, they outclassed the Spanish at Hampden Park with a performance for the ages. They have been classy and clinical when it mattered.

Celtic Players Featured Heavily in Euro 2020

Callum McGregor prior to the UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifying Round Group A match between Scotland and Cyprus at Hampden on March 25, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

In 2021, Clarke named six Celtic players in his squad for the Covid-affected edition, but they crashed out with only one point from the group. The performance at Wembley in the goalless draw with finalists England was something to build on though. This time around, the team are in a very strong group and will need some key contributions from the Bhoys players. One of the survivors from three years ago is club captain Callum McGregor. He has returned from a spell on the sidelines and will hope to resume duty in the midfield berth he played during qualifying.

Callum McGregor Offers Class and Experience

20th June 2023; Hampden Park, Euro 2024 Qualifier, Scotland versus Georgia; Callum McGregor of Scotland celebrates with his team mates after he shoots and scores to make it 1-0 to Scotland.

McGregor has over 50 caps and a wealth of experience and will probably slot in crucially alongside John McGinn and Scott McTominay. Former boss Ange Postecoglou once hailed him as “an outstanding Celtic footballer who will be remembered long after I’m gone.” The 30-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best in the middle of the park, showing immense composure and visual awareness of what’s going on around him. Having missed recent friendlies with Northern Ireland and the Netherlands, it was clear that the team missed him. The eight-time Scottish Premiership winner is one of the vital cogs in Clarke’s thinking.

Anthony Ralston is a Versatile Player

Tony Ralston opens the scoring for Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Anthony Ralston has six Scottish Premiership titles behind him, all at the age of 25. He’s only gained eight international caps and hasn’t featured as much this season for the Hoops. Clarke said “he has good energy and he gets forward” after the right-back scored his first international goal against Armenia in qualifying. The other key attribute the defender possesses is versatility. He could play on the right side of midfield. Ralston could be a better alternative to Everton’s Nathan Patterson who has had his own injury problems in the 2023/24 campaign.

Greg Taylor Could Benefit From Expanded Squad of 26

 Greg Taylor of Scotland is seen prior to the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between Scotland and Russia at Hampden Park on September 06, 2019. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Greg Taylor is another Celtic star of the season as the Bhoys  claimed a 12th title in 13 seasons in the 5-0 away win at kilmarnock. Taylor’s form has been under the microscope but he’s a dependable figure for Brendan Rogers. Now that UEFA has expanded the playing squads from 23 to 26, the left-back has high hopes of making the final cut. He made the Euro 2020 cut as a youngster to experience the squad, but now has 127 Celtic appearances behind him. The former Kilmarnock man already has 13 international caps and possesses the maturity to handle the big occasion.

James Forrest, Impressing at Celtic, Pushes for a Place in Scotland Squad

James Forrest celebrates after scoring a hat-trick during the UEFA Nations League match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden on November 20, 2018. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Another who could benefit from the expanded pool is 32-year-old attacker James Forrest. When Clarke first took the job, the forward was very much the go-to player. He has always had technical ability and that is something this squad could always use, especially in cameos. Now that time has marched on for the 32-year-old, it is a long shot. Forrest has five goals from 38 matches and would be a handy alternative with experience.

James Forrest scoring against Kilmarnock in Celtic’s 5-0 victory that secured the Scottish Premiership title on Wednesday 15 May 2024.

Scotland’s recent winless run has been concerning as they look to play the final few friendlies against Finland and Gibraltar before the campaign. According to the tipsters on Oddspedia Scotland are 100/1 to win Euro 2024. Though a long shot, stranger things have happened (Greece and Denmark come to mind).

It appears that Clarke will be loyal to the core players who played in qualification, which means that McGregor will be an absolute shoo-in.

Elsewhere, injuries could open up the door for some Celtic stars to get the chance of a lifetime. As the great Jock Stein once said: “The best teams are built on trust, camaraderie, and a shared vision.” It is almost time.

About Author

Comments are closed.