50-50 Challenge: Scotland vs. England, a rivalry renewed
It's the oldest rivalry in football, with Scotland and England due to face off on Tuesday evening.
A friendly in name only, these two will be desperate to get one over the old enemy at Celtic Park and to preview the game, Derek Rae (Scotland) and Peter Thorne (England) tackle the 50-50 Challenge.
You could write a book on this rivalry, but we don't have the time. Sum it up in under 10 words.
Derek Rae: The oldest international fixture. The definitive rivalry.
Peter Thorne: It's a rivalry as old as international football -- 'nuff said.
Which players from the opposition, if any, would you take?
DR: I would gladly take most of the English defence and certainly Wayne Rooney. Scotland's defence is not the strongest part of the side, but there are numerous good options from midfield to the front men. However, the team is the thing, and at the moment, there's almost a club mentality about Scotland, so I'm happy with the team as it looks now.
PT: It may look like unnecessary goading, but the days when Scotland could point to a player like Denis Law, Alan Hansen or Kenny Dalglish (and even the staunchest England fan would have to nod his head in agreement) are sadly long gone. Darren Fletcher is probably the closest any of Scotland's squad would get to an England side, but even then the midfield is likely the strongest area of Roy Hodgson's anyway.
Tell us why your team will win this
DR: We are enjoying our national team again. A lot of that has to do with coach Gordon Strachan, who is proving to be the ideal man for the job. It's also a reflection that we are producing Scottish players again. Take Andy Robertson, a superb young talent who was still an amateur footballer 18 months ago. On the heels of a magnificent win against the Irish on Friday night, Scotland will be up for this.
PT: In much the way that England think they will give Germany a game but seldom do, so Scotland tend to bang on about upsetting the "Auld Enemy" without really having much to back it up. On paper, this isn't a match the Three Lions should be concerned about. Scotland will raise their game, Hodgson will use the fixture as an opportunity to blood some new players, so an upset isn't beyond the realms of possibility but -- despite their shortcomings at top tournament level every two years -- England usually find a way not to lose games like this and I'm not expecting that to change.
It was pretty close the last time these two met. Will we see a similar game?
DR: I commentated on the last meeting at Wembley, and it was a very open, compelling spectacle. The difference was England's superior bench and ability to use so many substitutes. Otherwise Scotland would likely have secured at least a draw. I think this will also be very close.
PT: You would have to think so. Whatever Scotland do, it will undoubtedly involve trying to unsettle England, and this is a young Three Lions side who may not have experienced an atmosphere like they are sure to face in Glasgow. England still don't have someone capable of killing off a game, so it could be tight.
When will both sides reach a major tournament together again?
DR: Euro 2016. Why not? Yes, Scotland are in probably the toughest group you could be in, but the performances have been strong. It has been far too long since Scotland were at a major tournament. These things are cyclical. As a youngster, I used to think England would never make it to the World Cup, as they failed in qualify in 1974 and 1978.
PT: Gordon Strachan is doing a fine job as Scotland boss, but football north of the border is suffering from problems even worse than those experienced by their English rivals. There's a dearth of major talent, and it means the Scots will be found wanting at the highest level. The new-look Euro tournament, though, does give everyone a better chance to qualify, and with Strachan's expertise in getting the best from his squad, a dual appearance may well be on the cards by as early as 2016.
DR: Scotland 2-1 England. Home advantage to swing it in the Scots' favour.
PT: Scotland 1-2 England. The usual rip-roaring soundtrack will spur the home side on, but England have too much on Scotland ultimately.