Tensions are also rising in the Berlin district of Wedding. Fraser McCabe has been taking Friday night reservations for several days. By choice the Berliner comes originally from Dundee, but has been running “Hirsch und Hase”, a Scottish gastropub on Voltstrasse for many years. Many Scots in Berlin will watch from afar on Friday when their team takes on their hated and beloved rivals England in the second Group D game (at 9 pm, live on ZDF and Magenta TV).
McCabe says, “We are already fully booked and are expecting over 100 guests, which is enough for us. Most reservations are made by Scots, but fans from England are welcome as well. “After all, English people’s money is just as good as other people’s,” laughs the landowner, who has turned a 200-liter oil barrel into a grill to pair the game with culinary delights. There should be a festive atmosphere. After all, it’s not every day that Scotland plays England in a major tournament.
Historic Couple at Wembley
In England too, when the Scots invaded London, a more peaceful and friendly atmosphere is expected. Officially, Wembley Stadium will have only a few thousand fans coming from the north among the 22,500 spectators, but in reality there are likely to be many more – especially outside the stadium. Early on Wednesday, there were reports in the Scottish media about fans making the long trip to London. Soldiers of the “Tartan Army” disguised in forts and Balmoral hats boarded a train in Glasgow to march south into the old enemy.
Around 20,000 Scottish fans were expected to arrive in the English capital this week, despite the fact that authorities are issuing an immediate warning against such visits. In the UK, the seven-day incidence currently stands at just under 80 new infections per 100,000 people, with the extension of coronavirus restrictions for another month causing disappointment this week. On Wednesday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed concern that the European Championship Games could lead to a sharp increase in infections in the capital. “In a perfect world, I would welcome the Tartan Army to London with open arms, but with the numbers rising, that won’t happen this time. The best thing would be not to come to London and enjoy the game at home instead, “They said.
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It is probably a holy wish. Because when England play against Scotland it’s always something special for both fan camps: Delta version or not. The oldest rivalry in football was first played in 1870 at the “Oval”, a cricket stadium. Since then, a total of 114 meetings have taken place, some of which have become creative cultural experiences in the nation’s history. The famous 1996 European Championship group game at Wembley Stadium is considered by some to be the highlight of a fairy-tale English football summer, the impact of which went far beyond football. Football had ushered in the Britpop era when Paul Gascoigne beat the Scots with a dream goal and made the whole nation laugh with cheers from his dentist. A few months later, Tony Blair quoted the popular EM song “Three Lions” in his speech at the Labor Party convention. “Labor is coming home,” said the man, who a year later became the Labor Party’s first prime minister in two decades.
Scots want a new referendum
A quarter century later, England and Scotland meet again in a European Championship group game at Wembley, but this time against an entirely different political background. The pleasant optimism of that time has long since faded, and relations between England and Scotland have also been seriously affected by the unrest of the past ten years. In 2014, Scots voted against independence only narrowly. Even today, the Scottish government is fighting fervently for a second referendum.
Both football camps have recently tried to downplay the importance of the rivalry a bit. “My children and grandchildren are English,” Scotland coach Steve Clarke said in an interview with the Guardian ahead of the tournament. He is enjoying the derby, but at the same time he is trying to stop the “noise”. England’s Raheem Sterling also warned this week against “fighting the old battle”. Of course, there is history, the Manchester City attacker said, “but for me it is just a normal game”.
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Still, Friday evening will have a special atmosphere, as doubles on the pitch have become a rarity. Since the “British Home Championship” was abolished in the mid-1980s, the two rivals have played less and less against each other. There have been only six clashes since the 1996 European Championships, with Scotland celebrating the last two victories in 1981 and 1999. So Friday’s game is also a historic occasion for the guests.
“A game against England is also an opportunity to show what we are capable of. There’s a lot of respect for us now because we’ve qualified for a tournament, but that’s not the honor we all want,” Scottish captain Andy Robertson told Sky Sports this week. The Liverpool full-back also believes his team can get something done in London. “England are one of the favorites for the title, but if our plan works we can do it.”
For the Scots, the prestige duel is ultimately an all-or-nothing game, with the main objective being to survive in Group D. After a disappointing 2–0 loss against the Czech Republic, Steve Clark’s team need at least one point to retain a chance to advance, but can count on one of their best players again. Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney. The British, on the other hand, are in a good mood and without any pressure. Gareth Southgate’s team can already dream of the 16th round after beating Croatia 1-0. With the return of defender Harry Maguire, the hosts gain experience and defensive stability.
If the underdog doesn’t come as a surprise, it won’t be a disaster for Fraser McCabe. “At the end of the day it’s just a soccer game,” says the Weddinger landlord, who actually prefers rugby to soccer. Still, he looks forward to the opportunity to celebrate another victory against the English. Because the Scottish national team has already defeated an old foe this year at Twickenham Stadium, home of English rugby. “If we beat them at Wembley, we can brag about it,” Scott says.
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