The England v Scotland fixture is regarded as the oldest international rivalry going back some 144 years.
The neighbours first met way back in 1872 and have faced each other on 112 occasions since.
In truth, Friday’s World Cup qualifier between the two will be a case of two mediocre teams going head-to-head to see who is the least mediocre.
England have a good record of beating Scotland in recent games, recording wins in the last five meetings.
England are flat-track bullies
I believe most England fans have now accepted that the Three Lions are not a major force in international football. However, for some reason a minority of England fans get excited when the Three Lions coast through their qualifying groups to major tournaments.
These easy qualifications are more a harsh indictment of their opponent’s quality than a benchmark to measure England’s quality. You have to go all the way back to qualification for World Cup 2002 to find England grouped with a top level European team in Germany.
There qualification record just keeps improving and the Three Lions are consistently given top seeds in groups. England then head to major tournaments and show themselves up. The Three Lions did exactly that at Euro 2016 with their defeat by Iceland.
The Three Lions could not even to manage to fulfil their role as flat-track bullies in that one, with the Nordic minnows claiming a 2-1 victory in the last-16 of the competition.
In short, England have a fine qualification record. However, that is because just like this time around they are generally in groups with poor teams. When England are top seeds you know the group is going to be weak.
What has happened to Scotland?
In sporting terms Scotland is a small country. However, in the past the Scots have produced some fine players. The likes of Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish, Pat Nevin, Charlie Nicolas and Gary McAllister string to mind off the top of my head.
In the 80’s most of the top English teams had Scottish stars. In fact, Scottish players have always seemed to play a big part in the English top-flight’s success.
However, there seems to be a major dearth of talent in the Scottish game. Not as many talented youngsters seem to be coming through the ranks of the Scottish game. Youngster Oliver Burke at RB Leipzig is one of the most promising youngsters to have come out of Scotland in a while.
The rise of young Karamoko Dembele at Celtic has also made headlines. However, the 13-year-old still has a long way to go to become a fully-fledged professional footballer. The youngster was also born in London, so could still defect to the Three Lions in the future.
Scotland boss Gordon Strachan has taken a lot of stick recently for the team’s performances. But in truth, he is only working with the resources at his disposal which at the moment are not great. Maybe another boss could drain a modicum more of talent out of the Scotland team.
However, whoever is in charge of the national team will have a fight on their hands until the country starts producing better quality players. Same could be said about England to a slightly lesser degree.
England just slightly less mediocre
England are favourites at odds of 4/10 to record a victory in Friday’s clash at Wembley. Scotland will head to London as underdogs and will probably lose the game. It probably will not be because England are so much better than their neighbours.
The more likely reason is probably that they are just slightly less mediocre than their noisy neighbours. It is a sad state of affairs for British football that both teams have such a dearth of top talent in their teams.
Scotland are likely to come to Wembley, try very hard and the fans will be very vocal. However, like most minnows that England plays in qualifiers they are likely to head home with nothing but disappointment from their trip to the English capital.
Then just because England have recorded another World Cup qualifier victory there will be a small minority of Three Lions fans who delude themselves into thinking the team is in a fine state.
Will England beat Scotland at Wembley on Friday?