UEFA EURO 2020 Play-Off Semi-final
Scotland v Israel
Thursday, 8 October 2020, kick-off 7.45pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Live on Sky Sports
The wait is nearly over for Steve Clarke, his players and fans all across the country as Scotland prepare for the long-awaited UEFA EURO 2020 Play-Off semi-final clash against Israel.
For many, this is not how it was supposed to be. More than six months after the originally-scheduled date of 26 March, the match is finally set to be staged at an empty Hampden Park.
The stakes are just as high, with a spot at next summer’s European Championships one step closer should Clarke and his men make it past Israel this week.
The two sides are now familiar opponents, having met on three occasions in the last two years, with the record delicately poised over the course.
Israel inflicted a first defeat in the 2018 UEFA Nations League campaign for Scotland, winning 2-1 in Haifa after coming back from a goal down thanks to a Charlie Mulgrew penalty.
Scotland made amends for that defeat in November of that year, seeing out a hard-fought contest at Hampden with a 3-2 victory thanks to a James Forrest hat-trick and a spectacular late Allan McGregor save. The result not only clinched top spot in their Nations League, but also secured this week’s EURO 2020 Play-off spot.
They then met as recently as last month after having again been drawn together in the UEFA Nations League. A Ryan Christie penalty in front of an empty Hampden was not enough to secure victory for Steve Clarke’s side, as Israel fought back to clinch a 1-1 draw.
Both sides come into the match in good form, having both gone unbeaten in their opening two 2021 UEFA Nations League fixtures, sharing the spoils in their meeting at Hampden last month, with Scotland going on to win 2-1 in the Czech Republic and Israel securing a draw with a late equaliser against Slovakia.
Ryan Fraser, Lawrence Shankland and Oli McBurnie return to the squad for this month’s triple-header, having been unable to prove their fitness in September. Fraser will be buoyed by new club Newcastle’s early season form, while Shankland has taken to life in the Scottish Premiership with two goals for Dundee United after returning from injury.
Hibs centre half Ryan Porteous will be hoping to get his first cap in one of the three matches after his second senior call-up, having been a late call-up previously at the tail end of last year.
Lyndon Dykes will be hoping to keep his place and carry on the impressive form he showed in his first two caps last month. The new QPR striker will be vying for a starting position with the returning Lawrence Shankland, Oli McBurnie and new Sheffield Wednesday attacker Callum Paterson.
Scotland midfielder Kenny McLean is well aware the magnitude of the match.
After starting in Scotland’s 2-1 victory in the Czech Republic last month, the Norwich player is ready for what is arguably the nation’s biggest match in 13 years.
"If these games don't excite you, then you shouldn't be here,” he said.
"This is a massive game for the country; we need to go and perform.
"All the boys know how big it is. Expectation and pressure are brilliant. There's so much riding on this and it's great to be involved. We're ready and really looking forward to it."
Supporters will still be able to have a key part of the match day experience delivered to their home.
A limited print run of the UEFA EURO 2020 Play-Off Semi-Final programme will be produced in conjunction with the Scottish FA’s programme partners Ignition Sports Media.
To ensure supporters don’t miss out on this keepsake from such a crucial match, copies are only available from the online Ignition programme shop now for £4 plus £0.99 p+p. There will be no digital version.
Visit https://www.scottishfa.co.uk/news/match-programmes-available-for-upcoming-triple-header/?rid=14258 for more information and to order your copy.
How to follow the match
The match will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event, kicking off at 7:45pm.
You can also receive live updates via the official @ScotlandNT Twitter account.