EURO 2020: Harry Kane ready to crush Scottish hearts again
(Photo by Shaun Botterill - UEFA/Getty Images)

When Harry Kane was asked where his goal against Scotland at Hampden Park in 2017 ranked amongst his pantheon of career goals, the striker couldn't help but gleam at the thought of replicating it at Wembley Stadium.

Since Kane scored six goals in the 2018 Russia World Cup - where he collected the golden boot amidst his trailblazing path - the talisman has taken his international tally to 34 goals in 55 England caps. And the Englishman will look to notch another in matchday two of the European Championships.

What stands in his way, though, is a clash like no other: An adrenaline-inflamed contest against the Three Lions fiercest rivals. England will play Scotland at Wembley Stadium in the Group D fixture of Euro 2020, whistleblowing a significant fixture for the Tartan Army, who were condemned to a 2-0 defeat in their opening game against Czech Republic.

Embed from Getty Images

Friday night's Group D fixture not only provides Scotland with only their second appearance in a major tournament since the World Cup in 1986, but it is also one of huge importance as they go into battle with England on a major stage for the first time since the age-old rivalry locked horns in the group stage of Euro '96.

Certainly, this is the oldest rivalry in international football, dating all the way back to 1872, when the two sides faced off in a small but fiery backdrop of a 4,000 capacity crowd at Hamilton Crescent. Tomorrow, though, bestows a much larger occasion, where a win for either side is the only result deemed acceptable.

But, despite being such a dated affair, England's captain still reminisces over his own, more recent memories, of the Three Lions - Tartan Army rivalry.

"That goal was one of my favourite goals I've scored in an England shirt for sure", he told the media when quizzed over his last goal.

"The atmosphere on that day was incredible really, and the noise after Scotland went 2-1 up was crazy, but for us to score, and to see the away fans celebrate was obviously a great feeling, and of course it would be great to do that again tomorrow."

It was also the striker's first goal as captain of England, a position that he will hold for the 34th time on Friday, so it was a moment he described as "one he will never forget". 

Embed from Getty Images
  • Kane warns Scotland over improved performances

If someone was to argue that Kane has improved since their last meeting, many would agree. Despite Tottenham Hotspur's dropoff in performance levels last season - which has led to the uncertainty of the striker's future - the 27-year-old still shone brightly.

The Englishman won his third Premier League Golden Boot by scoring 23 goals, while also turning provider for more goals than any other player - garnering undivided attention from both Manchester clubs.

Kane, when asked whether he had improved since England’s run to the semi-finals in 2018 when they lost 2-1 against Croatia after extra time, answered: “I think so. Obviously, I’ve got a lot more experience and my game understanding is a lot better.

“I’ve got better at knowing when to drop deep and when to run in behind, and using that to my advantage makes it not as easy for defenders; sometimes they don’t know whether to come all the way with you or stay back."

Although the striker did struggle to see much of the ball against a well-oiled Croatian backline, there is hope, that against a weaker and ageing Scotland defence, that he will be back to his best in Friday's encounter.

Embed from Getty Images
Making constant runs, darting forward and racing back, helped Raheem Sterling conjure some space for the winner last time out, but there is no doubt that the goal-hungry Harry Kane will want to leave a mark on Scotland on home soil.

However, the Three Lions captain suggests that the fixture won't be as plain-sailing as fans around the country have idealised.

  • England must be aware of the problems that Scotland can cause

Despite the overwhelming belief that England are head and shoulders above their northern rivals, it is an opinion that the Three Lions captain doesn't agree with.

In the head-to-head history, England edge Scotland with 48 victories to the Tartan Army's 41 triumphs - a statistic that would surprise many. However, if Andy Robertson is to captain the Scots to three points on Friday night, it will be their first over England since November 1999, when Three Lion hearts sunk at the sight of a Don Hutchison winner.

He said: “We have huge respect for Scotland. They have a lot of great players, a lot of experienced players. Andy Robertson, for one, has won the Premier League, won the Champions League.”

If England are to beat Scotland in their second Euro matchday, they will confirm their place in the Round of 16, with two opening wins making way for a positive start to a campaign encapsulated by hopeful England fans.

Embed from Getty Images
“There has been a lot of build-up around it. But it is our second game at a major tournament and our focus is to try to win and make sure we try to qualify and give ourselves as much of a chance of getting through to the next round as early as possible," the captain continued.
  • Focussed on Euro 2020 glory

Harry Kane's lack of silverware success at club level has been well-documented over the years, but the captain honed in on the fact he is fully focussed on the international stage, and the potential that the Three Lions offer in the Euros.

The Englishman was quick to highlight the importance of his country's glaring home advantage, saying that, “We’ve got to try to use that to our advantage as much as possible. That’s all I’m focused on.”

“If we fell short of a semi-final, we’d all be disappointed as players, as a country and as staff as well.

“I think we have been moving in the right direction in the last three or four years so the next step is to go one step further, at least, and try and get into that final and hopefully try and win it.

“I think we all have to believe we can win it. That’s the reason we’re in this competition to try to win it.”