Steve Clarke declares Scotland have ALREADY learned hard Euros lesson as he bins 'experience' narrative

Steve Clarke
-Credit: (Image: SNS Group / SFA)

Steve Clarke insists Scotland will not make the mistakes which sent them home from the last Euros early.

The national boss will lead his side into battle against Hungary here in Stuttgart tonight knowing three Group A points will be enough to book a place in the knock-out stages - three years after failing to make the cut in the last European Championships. That final defeat at home to Croatia has left Clarke and his players licking their wounds ever since and determined to make amends in Germany by becoming the first Scotland side in history to get out of the group stages in a major finals.

And Clarke believes his side is ready for the challenge. He said: “They have a helluva lot more experience. That is one of the things we set out to do. We said if we can become - if not serial qualifiers - but if we can qualify more regularly for these tournaments you understand what you are doing when you are there.

“I think we have done a lot of things right this time that maybe we didn’t get quite right the last time. Hopefully when we get to the last game the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. That’s what we are after.”

And Clarke insists his players will be mentally tough enough to finish off the job - despite seeming spooked for the tournament opener in Munich, when the Germans romped to a 5-1 win.

Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with the Swiss has given them the chance to recover from that mauling and Clarke said: “I think the mental side of the game is massive. We felt that in the first game and it was probably more the mental side of the game that let us down in that game - and the fact we didn’t get around to doing what we are good at.

“In the second game we did what we are good at and we got a positive result. Hopefully we go into the match tomorrow and we do what we are good at. If we do what we are good at, we’ve got a chance.”

And yet the manager admits the Scots will face another stiff test even though the Hungarians go into the game on the back of three straight defeats. He said: “When you look at their record over the last few years they have been building towards this.

“They are a good team, well organised. Good discipline without the ball and a good threat with the ball.

“They have some talented players and I’m not going to name them all. But hopefully we can stifle them and keep them in place.

‘We expect a difficult game and I’m sure the Hungarians are also expecting a difficult game from us. It’s two similar teams, two similar line-ups, two similar systems and hopefully our system is slightly better than their system.’