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Scotland’s opening Euro 2020 match with Czech Republic will bring country to a complete STANDSTILL 

On the Albert Bridge here in Glasgow, they are selling scarves that proudly declare: ’No Scotland. No Party’.

Schoolteachers, by contrast, will allow pupils to watch Monday’s Euro 2020 opener against Czech Republic by claiming it is a ‘cultural event’.

Arty or party, your motivation matters not, the fact is an entire country will come to a standstill at two o’clock.

Scotland begin their first tournament campaign in 23 years on Monday against Czech Republic

Not that they will be standing still should Scotland score their first goal at a major tournament in 23 years. Or, even better, win their first match since Euro 96.

Classroom, front room, beer garden or back garden, televisions are already in position and chairs assembled, for not even Steve Clarke has put this level of preparation into this game. In a restricted Covid world, supporters are leaving nothing to chance.

The Glasgow Green Fan Zone, with its wooden benches and giant screens on the banks of the River Clyde, is already sold out.

As, of course, is Hampden Park, where tickets are still available online for £600. There will be 12,000 lucky souls inside the stadium, which has been fortified by a ring of steel.

Scotland have erected a UEFA fan zone in Glasgow so fans can watch their Euro 2020 bid

Scotland have erected a UEFA fan zone in Glasgow so fans can watch their Euro 2020 bid

The reason for such measures is that, once people are verified, temperature checked and permitted entry, the organisers want to keep them inside. Don’t worry, no one will be trying to escape Hampden, it is the centre of the universe as far as the natives are concerned.

Their heroes – Scotland’s players achieved such status simply by qualifying – landed at Glasgow Airport on Sunday afternoon, flying north from their Rockliffe Hall training base in Darlington.

If Clarke and his squad were in the dark as to the bubbling fervour in their homeland having spent the last two weeks in Spain and England, then the drive from the airport to their hotel was enlightening, if a little frightening.

Steve Clarke is putting the final touches to his Scotland squad preparing to do battle

Steve Clarke is putting the final touches to his Scotland squad preparing to do battle

‘I was a bit nervous on the M8 when all the cars were slowing down to toot their horns,’ said Clarke. ‘They were swerving to avoid each other! Thankfully, there were no incidents.

‘But everyone wanted to wish us well, and that’s great. So we’re definitely aware of the magnitude of this game and know what it means to everyone.’

Much has been made here of the campaign to allow children to watch the game in school, with the Scottish government saying they would leave it to the discretion of headteachers.

One of them, Wendy Cameron of Broomhill Primary in the west end of Glasgow, made headlines this week when she declared: ‘Maths worksheets and workbooks won’t create memories as good as watching the match.’

Debates are going around Scotland as to whether Monday's game should be shown in school

Debates are going around Scotland as to whether Monday’s game should be shown in school

Captain Andy Robertson was certainly supportive of her words. ‘Rightly so,’ said the Liverpool defender. ‘I hope the schools give them a special pass to watch the game.

‘This has been a long time coming. A lot of kids, even teenagers and people in their early 20s, haven’t witnessed us in a major tournament.

‘I hope the fact that is now happening will inspire the nation. I’m sure we could have sold out Hampden many times over. We could feel that buzz around Glasgow as soon as we landed. We have to try and keep that smile on their faces now.’

That’s the noise on the outside, but on the inside Clarke continues to go about his work quietly. He certainly does not give much away.

Clarke claims he now knows his first Scotland starting line-up at Euro 2020 after some doubts

Clarke claims he now knows his first Scotland starting line-up at Euro 2020 after some doubts

Does he know his starting XI? ‘Yes.’ Silence. Okay, next question.

Clarke is not one for grand expansion in front of the press. His team, however, promises to be far more expansive on recent evidence.

The manager has found a way to fuse two world-class left-backs in Robertson and Kieran Tierney in the same team. His solution – madcap on the face of it – is to play without a left-back.

It’s a bold move, but it’s also brilliant, given that Tierney at left centre-half and Robertson at left wing-back allows two outstanding players to defend and attack in tandem. If anything, the tactic has multiplied their worth.

One Clarke dilemma is how to fit in left-backs Andy Robertson (left) and Kieran Tierney (right)

One Clarke dilemma is how to fit in left-backs Andy Robertson (left) and Kieran Tierney (right)

Clarke’s ‘methodical’ approach – his words – means there is likely to be another surprise in store for their opponents, just like they stunned Holland with a rampant press two weeks ago.

The sight of a group of Czech journalists wrestling with a bus timetable outside of Hampden on Sunday night is perhaps a forerunner for the headaches which await their side.

And headaches of a different cause come Tuesday morning will be the hope of a nation who are about to indulge in sunshine, beer and cheer. Except for the schoolkids, that is. For them, it’s back to mathematics.

Miss, how many points do Scotland need to make the knockout rounds?

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