Euro 2020: England vs Scotland – where the game will be won and lost

England meet Scotland on Friday night in what looks like being a pivotal group game for both following contrasting fortunes at the start of Euro 2020.

For Gareth Southgate’s side, another three points following victory over Croatia will all but see them through to the last-16 of the competition and in good shape to progress as group winners.

But after losing 2-0 against the Czech Republic, defeat for Scotland – especially a heavy one – could put them on the brink of a group stage elimination.

As football’s oldest rivals prepare to face off at Wembley Stadium, Sportsmail looks at where the game will be won and lost. 

Raheem Sterling (10) gave England a 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening group game

Scotland though slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home against Czech Republic at Hampden Park

Scotland though slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home against Czech Republic at Hampden Park

Southgate’s left back dilemma

Gareth Southgate sprung a huge surprise against Croatia by failing to name either of his left backs in Ben Chilwell or Luke Shaw in the starting line-up, instead opting for right-back Kieran Trippier.

But the England manager’s selection was justified after the Atletico Madrid star put in a competent shift during the 1-0 win, showing defensive resolve in a professional England performance.

However, it now leaves Southgate in a situation where he has to choose with tweaking a winning team or sticking with the unbalanced looking set-up.

While Trippier has played at left back for his country before, it’s not a position he excels in – and neither is he expected to.

Chilwell and Shaw are more than capable of providing the attacking influence in his place but Southgate may favour the defensive strength Trippier offers to his side.

Kieran Trippier performed well against Croatia despite playing in an unfamiliar role at left back

Kieran Trippier performed well against Croatia despite playing in an unfamiliar role at left back

Scotland must get Robertson involved

Scotland had their moments against the Czech Republic and especially in the first half looked dangerous attacking the left flank through Andy Robertson.

The Liverpool left-back was a constant thorn to the Czechs in the first 45 minutes, but saw his influence wane after half-time during the Hampden Park loss.

In Robertson, Steve Clarke’s men have one of the world’s finest full-backs and it is crucial they utilise his attacking talents to get at an England defence which is arguably the weak link in Southgate’s side.

While Kyle Walker offers plenty of experience at right back for the Three Lions he can be prone to errors and this gives Scotland a great avenue to exploit as they seek a first win at Wembley for 22 years.

Attack could provide the best form of defence for Clarke’s side on this front as the prospect of pushing Robertson up high might force England to tread with caution in allowing Walker to bomb forward and offering width on the right hand side.

Andy Robertson was a key attacking threat for Scotland in the first half against Czech Republic

Andy Robertson was a key attacking threat for Scotland in the first half against Czech Republic

Can Harry Kane find his form?

It is, of course, still early days at Euro 2020 but in an otherwise encouraging performance for England there would have been slight concerns about the form of Harry Kane.

The Tottenham striker endured a quiet Sunday afternoon at Wembley before he was replaced with eight minutes to go by teenage midfielder Jude Bellingham.

It’s rare to see the England captain substituted but he struggled to offer much in the Three Lions attack having been stifled by the Croatia defence. Scotland are not about to let him have more freedom of the pitch, so he could be in for another frustrating encounter at Wembley on Friday.

While he has dealt with this aspect well in the last 18 months by dropping deep to collect the ball and link up play, it leaves the Three Lions short with bodies in attack.

On a positive note for the skipper, he has previous for snuffing out a goal against a packed Scotland defence having found a stoppage time equaliser at Hampden Park to rescue a 2-2 draw in a World Cup qualifier four years ago.

But with questions over his starting role starting to emerge with Dominic Calvert-Lewin potentially waiting in the wings to replace him he is under pressure to deliver on what could be an evening where he could only be limited to few clear cut chances. 

Harry Kane struggled in front of goal in England's opening game and needs to improve

Harry Kane struggled in front of goal in England’s opening game and needs to improve

New test for Stones and Mings

In the absence of the injured Harry Maguire, England’s defence looked in steady hands with a centre-back pairing of Tyrone Mings and John Stones.

Croatia were admittedly poor and laboured in their attacks, but the defensive duo stood up well to a team featuring veteran playmaker Luka Modric, who would have tested the duo’s ability to read the game to the maximum during the Group D opener.

A different sort of test may be offered by Scotland however. England are expected to dictate the game technically but that doesn’t mean Clarke’s men will be unable to create chances.

Whether it is through set-piece opportunities or via Robertson crosses from the left, Stones and Mings may find themselves having to deal with more balls pumped into the penalty area

This will provide a new challenge mentally on top of a physical battle to deal with against Scotland’s attack and something they may have to deal with increasingly as the game wears on – especially if Clarke’s side are chasing the game.

England’s defence, which is not known for being robust and error free, could be in for a tougher test than the one offered by Croatia even if Southgate’s team dominate the game.

John Stones (left) and Tyrone Mings (right) impressed as a defensive pairing at Wembley

John Stones (left) and Tyrone Mings (right) impressed as a defensive pairing at Wembley

Mings produced a solid defensive display against Croatia

Stones formed a good partnership with the Aston Villa defender

But the duo could be set for a different challenge and an even tougher test against Scotland

Phillips vs McTominay

Leeds United and Manchester United supporters might get a flavour of what is to come next season when Kalvin Phillips and Scott McTominay go head-to-head in the midfield.

While England are overall expected to dominate play – especially with stars like Phil Foden and Mason Mount looking to pressure Scotland it is Phillips who could be key to the Three Lions’ midfield.

It will be his job to try and break up any Scotland counter attacks and snuff out interceptions – a feat he performed to expertise in the victory over Croatia.

His man of the match showing at Wembley helped ease fears over potentially rushing Jordan Henderson back from injury.

From a Scotland perspective it is vital McTominay puts much more pressure on Phillips to hinder his influence especially after struggling to offer a similar dominant display during the defeat by the Czech Republic.

Kalvin Phillips produced a man of the match performance against Croatia

McTominay though struggled to influence the game in the same way against the Czech Republic

Kalvin Phillips and Scott McTominay prepare to go head-to-head in the midfield at Wembley