Poland and Scotland played out an enthralling game of football in front of over 55,000 fans in the Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw. The 2-2 score line was probably a fair reflection on the game as both sides were worthy of a point. Poland got the ball rolling when Krzysztof Maczynski’s finished off some neat play to glide the ball past Cardiff City’s David Marshall. Scotland under Gordon Strachan have been real smooth operators at times and they showed great character and composure to keep their heads and not panic against a side that had beaten the World Cup champions three days earlier. Steven Fletcher picked out Ikechi Anya with a sublime pass which the winger caught sweetly on his left foot, teeing up the on-rushing Shaun Maloney, who coolly slotted home past Wojciech Szczesny. Unlike his effort against Georgia at the weekend, the former Celtic man didn’t need to rely on a deflection, this goal was all his. Everton’s Steven Naismith put the Scots ahead midway in the second half, but Arkadiusz Milik blasted home a rocket of an equalizer with a little more than ten minutes to go in this exciting encounter. This contest was played at a sublime pace, with end-to-end attacking football from both sides. Maloney and Anya were a constant threat on the wings, aided by the honest work rate of Fletcher. The Scottish defence did enough to keep quite Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski, but Milik and Maczynski were not to be denied as they broke a stubborn Scotland. Getting your hands on a highlight package of this game is a must, but it might just last about 90 minutes or so.
In 2007, Scott Brown and Fletcher were both part of the Hibernian team that won the Scottish Cup. Both men have since moved on from Edinburgh and carved out successful careers that went in different paths. Brown stayed in Scotland but went on to sign for Celtic. His international career has blossomed, and as it stands, he is Strachan’s captain. Brown has won countless honours with the Hoops and has featured in some memorable Champions League encounters for the Glaswegians. Fletcher is a proven goal- scorer at the highest level and regularly notched double figures in the Premier League, although injuries have stalled Fletcher’s career at times. The international stage has had its fair share of terrific footballers that never got to feature in a major tournament. From this side of the world, George Best and Ryan Giggs are just two names that spring to mind. With Brown and Fletcher both approaching their thirties, 2016 could offer the perfect opportunity, and depending on form and indeed how their bodies hold up, the duo deserve to show their talents on the world stage.
The group of death is an all too familiar term that is perhaps too often coined in relation to various knock-out stages in Europe’s elite competitions. But perhaps the term really can be applied to Group D. As it currently stands, the Poles and the Irish are neck in neck at the top on seven points. The Germans and Scots are on four points and are battling it out in third and fourth spot. Only three of these teams can qualify out of Group D. The idea of France 2016 being played without the World Cup Champions is an unimaginable thought for neutrals and the promoters. But one could only imagine what the Poles, the Scots and the Irish could bring to the party. All three countries have made excellent starts to the qualifying campaign, but it is the fans of these three proud nations that could bring such an amazing atmosphere to the Euros and are just as famous as their teams. Poland would bring that traditional European partisan support that raises the hairs on your back, while the Scots and Irish don’t need a second invite to any gathering that involves a merry time amongst football supporters.
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