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Key Players For Scotland vs England

It is finally here! Well, Wednesday. Scotland vs England. The Euros. Scotland’s debut at a major international tournament against their Auld Enemy.

Can Scotland win? Of course, they can. I believe that Hayley Lauder is still a doubt for the England game, so I will slightly assume that she won’t start. To me, this would be a big loss, but that’s football for you.

Photo: Tommy Hughes
Scotland’s team photo in the recent friendly win against Ireland

I think Scotland will set up in what I will call, an uber-flexible 4-4-2. One of England’s strengths will be their pace of attack, so I can imagine Leanne Crichton being asked to sit as a holding midfielder, in between the defence and midfield duo of Caroline Weir and Erin Cuthbert.

Leanne Ross will play as a right wide midfielder, with probably Lisa Evans as a left-midfielder – assuming that Lauder is unable to start. Up front will be Jane Ross and Fiona Brown, with a back four of Frankie Brown, Rachel Corsie, Vaila Barsley and Kirsty Smith – with Gemma Fay in goal.

So why will that be uber-flexible? If needs be, Leanne Ross can drop into a back-five, Fiona Brown can (and will) drop in as a right winger without the ball. Cuthbert can be moved further forward to either play off a striker or on the wing. Depending on how the match goes, that starting eleven can easily become about five other formations.

The key players for Scotland will be Vaila Barsley and Erin Cuthbert.

Photo: Tommy Hughes
Erin Cuthbert against Ireland.

Barsley is so key because Scotland’s defence has for a while been their weakest point. It had long been the case that the idea of Scotland lining up without Jennifer Beattie and Rachel Corsie against quality opposition as worrying. It’s not that their replacements were bad players, I mean Ifeoma Dieke has incredible experience (and the only player with tournament experience having played for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics) and Joelle Murray is a star defender in the SWPL 1. But there was something always missing without Beattie or Corsie alongside them.

Barsley has been a revelation. The key to the best defenders is their anticipation, which space to fill, which player to pick up. Barsley seems to know where to place herself, and her leadership is second to none. I can see the future Scotland team being built around her.

In the centre of midfield, Erin Cuthbert will be key. Her range of passing is superb, as is her finishing, but that’s not her strength. Cuthbert’s main strength is her positivity. She will pick up the ball and run at the English defence, she has no fear in that regards and that will worry England. Her first thought always seems, ‘how can I turn this into a chance’.


That may be the difference between a narrow defeat and a draw, or a draw and a win.

3 thoughts on “Key Players For Scotland vs England

  1. Poor article as you will realise at the end of the match. Do you really follow Women’s football?
    As you have recently started to add cricket to your social media, I suggest that you make the move now before you embarrass yourself even more.
    Even Allan Campbell has disagreed with your latest comments! The battle of the journalists, I use the term in a rather small way. Leave the real work to the professionals!!!

  2. As expected! Not a clue about women’s football. Wrong formation! Wrong team selection! Where was Cuthburt? Where was L.Ross? Leanne Crichton in front of the defence? Joelle Murray a star player in SPL1. Certainly not at this level!
    Trash and even more trash.
    You want media coverage to increase? Suggest you give it a miss. Let the real journalists do the work.

    Sad for the girls, but Women’s football is just too poor in Scotland. No wonder the crowds don’t attend matches. I feel really sorry for all those young girls who have been taken on a trip to see the euros. Back to the drawing board again! Sack the board! They don’t have a clue! Jobs for the ‘boys’ & ‘girls’

    1. Well, first of all, thank you for the comments. First of all, I do watch Scottish Women’s Football. I admit the piece is not up to my usual standards – when I wrote it, I was in two minds and not feeling well meaning my editing was poor. In the end, I was meaning it to be more of an opinion piece, then an exact prediction. I fully accept it was a poor article.

      But, the one thing I was right about was the formation. The point about the uber flexible 4-4-2 was it allowed to go either 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1 and 4-1-4-1.

      Joelle Murray is a star player in the SWPL 1. And I was not, at any point, equating the standards of the SWPL 1 to either international football, nor the WSL.

      I’m not quite sure what you meant about ‘sack the board’, or ‘back to the drawing board again’, nor am I sure about why you are equating standard to attendances. It’s more to do with promotion and coverage.

      The fact that a journalist disagrees with me over a tweet, I assume, does not correlate to my ability. I guess you are referring to my tweet before the England game. I stand by that statement. Scotland’s must-win game was against Portugal, and that they would/need to take at least a point from England or Spain. Whilst it is hard to state my intent in a tweet, I still feel that the focus in the England game was the spirit/desire/attitude more than the result in terms of reaching the Quarter-Finals. And if all writers/journalists/bloggers agreed on things, we would have just one writer.

      Finally, I do not claim to be the equivalent to Alan Campbell in any way. I don’t think I’ve stated anywhere that I’m better than him (I’m not). But your point about ‘professionals’ in general. Define a professional? In today’s media environment, that line is blurring with the increase of fan blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels, I’m not sure what your point is. Most importantly of all, look back at all the articles and pieces on the website. Whilst health issues have really impacted my output this year, my work in the 2016 season should speak for itself.

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