England will play Scotland in an International friendly on Wednesday night, just three days before the start of a new Premier League season. The match will be held at Wembley Stadium, the first time the Scots have visited the ground since 1999.
Although most football fans will be irked by the presence of an international friendly so close to the start of the new season, an England vs. Scotland game will always generate excitement. The two teams share a rivalry that extends back to 1872, where they contested the oldest international fixture in history. The football rivalry has been intensified by age-old political and cultural tensions between Scots and Englishmen. Since the 1970s however, the sporting rivalry has somewhat cooled due to football reasons, with Scotland unable to compete at the higher levels of International football. The cancellation of the annual fixture in 1989 has not helped the situation.
The teams remain big rivals and Scotland fans will be sure to generate a special atmosphere for the game. Their team have had some special moments at the stadium. In 1928, a team that would be known as the Wembley Wizards, beat England 5-1, Alex Jackson scored three and Alex James scored two. In 1967, one year after England won the world cup, their old rivals were able to win the fixture 3-2. Scotland's heaviest defeat at the stadium was a 9-3 drubbing in 1961, where Jimmy Greaves scored a hat trick.
The last time the two nations played at Wembley was in 1999, in a qualifying play-off for UEFA Euro 2000. Scotland were able to win 1-0 at Wembley but were knocked out of the tournament after losing 2-0 at home.
World Cup Qualifying
Managers Gordon Strachan (Scotland) and Roy Hodgson (England) will hope this game can help in the preparation for remaining World Cup 2014 qualifying matches. England currently lie second in Group H two points behind leaders Montenegro and with a game in hand. Although the game in hand will be comforting for Hodgson, he still has to negotiate tough fixtures against Montenegro and Poland. This game will be valuable to the England coach for team assessment.
Scotland, unfortunately, have already been eliminated from next year's world cup. They are fifth in Group A after securing only five points from seven games and cannot claw back the difference to a qualifying spot. Despite being knocked out, Strachan will want his team to finish their qualifying campaign with strong showings.
Wayne Rooney is fit and ready to play for England. After much controversy surrounding his club future, he will take the field for his first match of pre-season. Hodgson will be missing Ashley Young and striker Daniel Sturridge will not feature due to an ankle injury sustained in England's last international friendly.
Scotland will be without Liam Birdcutt who has a groin injury. Gary Caldwell, Darren Fletcher and Steven Fletcher are also missing.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is at 12:30 am (Thursday, August 15) and live coverage is available on Star Sports and ESPN HD.