Netherlands 4 Scotland 0: Steve Clarke’s men suffer mauling in warm-up for Euro 2024

Tijjani Reijnders, rechts, viert vanavond zijn doelpunt voor Nederland in de Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam terwijl de Schotse spits Lawrence Shankland wanhopig toekijkt <i>(Image: PA)</i>” bad-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/ 7ae1a9e37a” src= “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/ 9e37a”/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Tijjani Reijnders, right, celebrates his goal for the Netherlands at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam tonight as Scottish striker Lawrence Shankland looks on in despair (Image: PA)

Having to score four goals so close to a major tournament would normally be a cause for concern for a national team, especially if it extends a winless streak to six games.

But Scotland, who lost 4-0 to the Netherlands tonight in their opening match for the 2024 European Championship at the Johan Cruijff Arena here in Amsterdam, will be bitterly disappointed but certainly not despondent after this setback.

Steve Clarke’s men, who let Tijjani Reijnders score a long-range goal in the first half and Georginio Wijnaldum, Wout Weghorst and Donyell Malen score in the second half, competed well with Ronald Koemann’s attacks for a long time and sometimes even controlled the procedures.

Andy Robertson and his teammates, who came into the match on the back of defeats to England, Spain and France and draws against Georgia and Norway, certainly created a host of scoring opportunities against top-flight rivals.

Scotland ultimately had to pay a heavy price for their inability to convert any of their own – their worst result since 2008.

Yet despite the final result, there was once again much for Clarke to take encouragement from as he prepared for the opening Group A match against tournament hosts Germany in Munich in June.

Here are five talking points from the friendly meeting.

Shankland begins

Clarke pulled off a surprise when he selected Lawrence Shankland as striker ahead of Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes.

Shankland has certainly been in inspired form up front for Hearts this season. His second-half goal in the 2-0 win over Celtic at Tynecastle at the start of the month took his total for club and country for the 2023/24 season to 28.

That is eleven more than Adams of Southampton and Dykes of Queens Park Rangers managed to achieve together.

Yet many fans and pundits believe the seven-capped 28-year-old lacks the mobility needed to lead the way as a lone frontman at international level and is only effective when he has support at his side.

Could the former Aberdeen, Ayr United, Dundee United and Beerschot striker, whose only start in a dark blue jersey before tonight was against minnows San Marino in 2019, prove his doubters wrong?

He got on the end of a Nathan Patterson cross and headed over the bar early on, then worked hard to create an opening in the final third. But he should have scored after McTominay put him through to Mark Fleken in the second half. All he had to do was beat the goalkeeper and he hit the crossbar.

KT class

Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney, who has moved to Real Sociedad in Spain this season to get game time, missed Scotland’s last four games against Spain, France, Georgia and Norway due to injury.

Clarke was pleased that a man who had been one of the most consistent performers during his five-year tenure was available for selection again, naming him to the left of his back three alongside Jack Hendry and Ryan Porteous.

He showed how important he is to his country in the first half when Cody Gakpo sent a cross for Scotland from the left. Memphis Depay waited until he could turn the ball into the net. But Tierney anticipated the delivery, came back and ran to safety.

He also dispossessed Mats Wieffer, just as the midfielder was about to score in time before half-time. When he left, the score was only 1-0.

Scotland have an abundance of talent at his position. Rangers’ John Souttar and Leeds United’s Liam Cooper were both on the bench. Grant Hanley and Scott McKenna meanwhile had to withdraw from the team. But keeping the former Celtic boy fit is so important for Scotland’s chances at the European Championship.

Debauched Scots

Ryan Christie is a firm favorite of the Scotland manager and he was preferred to Stuart Armstrong in an advanced midfield role alongside John McGinn in the 3-4-2-1 formation Clarke opted for.

He has played well for Bournemouth in the Premier League this season as a deep-lying midfielder, but he showed he had lost none of his predatory instincts when he got on the end of a Billy ahead of his old Celtic teammate Jeremie Frimpong . Gilmour crossed and headed towards goal.

Unfortunately for the 2,500 members of the Tartan Army in the stands, Fleken got a hand and put the attempt on the bar.

It was far from the only scoring opportunity that Andy Robertson managed to convert. McGinn skipped over and forced Flokken with a thunderous drive, Gilmour twice tried his luck from distance and Christie headed wide. Then there was the Shankland opportunity.

Clarke brought on Adams for Shankland, Souttar for Tierney, Lewis Ferguson for Gilmour, Armstrong for Christie and Anthony Ralston for Patterson. But the replacements failed to give his men the spark they needed. Scotland desperately need a much-needed edge in attack ahead of Germany.

Gunn blunder

Angus Gunn has hardly put a foot wrong since pledging his allegiance to his father’s native country and making his Scotland debut in last year’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Cyprus at Hampden.

But could Gunn have done better on the Reijnders strike? Yes, his defenders certainly could have closed down the AC Miland midfielder much quicker than they did. And yes, it was a beautiful strike. Still, he should have had a hand in it.

The Norwich City player, who did well to get off his line quickly to prevent Gakpo from making a Flek clearance, got a hand on Depay’s effort and tipped over a Gakpo shot, now has stiff competition for his place.

Hearts’ Zander Clark and Craig Gordon and Motherwell’s Liam Kelly are also in the squad for this double header. He can’t afford to make any more mistakes.

Brilliant Orange

The Dutch may no longer be the force they once were in global football. They lost to France both home and away in qualifying and are 16-1 outsiders to replicate their success at the 1988 European Championship in Germany this summer. But they are still ranked sixth in the FIFA World Rankings and remain a force to be reckoned with.

Manager Koemann put Nathan Ake, Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Depay and Gakpo in a strong starting line-up as he looks to get his preparations for Euro 2024 off to a winning start.

Jeremy Frimpong, the former Celtic defender who helped Bayer Leverkusen to a sensational season in Germany, was also given the nod at right-back. He made his first start and won only his second cap for his country.

However, the hosts were outclassed by the visitors in the first half and the home fans fell silent. Gilmour and McTominay controlled the center of the park and Hendry, Porteous and Tierney nullified the threat Depay posed. The opening goal came out of nowhere and was against the flow of the game.

But they undermined their opponents’ stubborn resistance and made them pay for their lack of ruthlessness in attack with three late goals. Based on this evidence, it looks like they will be contenders for the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

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