Many national teams currently boast a golden generation of talent and Scotland is one of them. The Tartan Army has had some great players in the past but the current crop is special.
From goalkeeper to attack, this is a team full of established players playing in top-tiers across the United Kingdom. Led by skipper Andrew Robertson, the team is full of potential and ready to take on the world.
In November, Scotland sealed qualification to the Euros after defeating Serbia 5-4 on penalties in the play-offs. The summer tournament will be the nation’s first appearance at a major competition since the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
For such a young squad, this is a great achievement. However, their bid to qualify for next year’s World Cup has not begun on a good note. Steve Clarke’s side was held to a 2-2 draw at home by Austria in their opening game in Group F.
A dire performance against Austria
Scotland have been in bad form since qualifying for the Euros. The Tartan Army hasn’t won in any of their last three matches.
They suffered defeats to Slovakia and Israel in the Nations League last year and also weren’t convincing when they faced Austria on Thursday in the World Cup qualifiers.
Clarke’s side was dominated by their opponents and ended the game with just four shots on target. For a side playing at home in such an important match, they should be doing way better.
"It's too early - I said before I think the section is going to be a little bit unpredictable," Clarke said in the aftermath of the game, as quoted by the BBC.
"No, I haven't set a target. You set yourself a points target and you don't reach it, you disappoint yourself. So, it's better just to take each game as a game and get the points you can get out of the game."
While Clarke tried to downplay the result, the performance of his side should be of concern to him. There are tougher games to come and Scotland need to massively improve to compete.
Clarke’s struggle to get the best out of Scotland stars
The current Scotland squad is certainly among the most talented the country has had in recent years. Robertson is a regular at Liverpool and Scott McTominay is blazing the trail at Manchester United.
Kieran Tierney is also a key player at Arsenal, John McGinn is thriving at Aston Villa, while Stuart Armstrong, Oliver McBurnie and Che Adams are all starring in the Premier League.
Despite all these talented players being at Steve Clarke’s disposal, the 57-year-old is struggling to get the best out of them.
There is this joke in Scotland that anytime the country has two world-class players, they unfortunately tend to play in the same position.
That is currently the case for Robertson and Tierney, who are both fantastic left-backs. The two cannot be dropped and so to accommodate them both, Clarke plays the former as a left wing-back while the latter plays on the left side of a three-man defense.
There were also times during the Euro qualifiers when McTominay was deployed at centre-back instead of in his favored midfield role.
This may be Scotland’s best squad in decades but Clarke has a tough job to do in getting them to gel and play well. He has managed to qualify the team for the Euros; now the next challenge is to get the best out of his stars.