After all the pre-match anticipation and excitement, it was inevitable we would be brought crashing down to earth as Scotland’s return to a major tournament fell flat.
All the pain suffered across two decades from the 1970s onwards came flooding back as I watched the Czech players celebrate and the crestfallen Scots trudge from the pitch.
It was all so typically Scottish.
Yet again the national team is left praying for a miracle if we are to finally make it to the knockout stages.
Given Kieran Tierney’s enforced absence, I had no real issue with the team Steve Clarke selected, but I was baffled by the changes he made when chasing the game and his reluctance to go to a formation which might have offered us more options going forward.
There was some decent football played, we certainly created chances, but the age-old inability to convert them returned to haunt the side, and we lost out to a team showing the clinical edge we lacked.
The goals scored by Patrick Schick were outstanding. There were defensive lapses which offered the Czechs the opportunities, but the striker showed world class technical ability with his finishing, an art our players simply do not display enough when they pull on a Scotland shirt.
Lyndon Dykes and Andy Robertson should both have scored, others were denied by good saves from Tomas Vaclik in the visitors’ goal, but the openings were such that the keeper should not have had the opportunity to repel them.
That means this evening’s match – the most difficult of the three – is crucial. It may be that three points is enough to get out of the group, but that will only become clearer after the second round of games, and cannot be relied upon.
It is to be hoped that Tierney will be fit for Wembley, but Clarke has big decisions to make either way. Does he look only to stifle England, or will he be more aggressive and try to take the game to them?
I would like to see Ché Adams lead the attack and I would find a place in the starting line-up for Billy Gilmour, who would revel in the occasion and has the ability to cause big problems for the English defence.
Even a point could make a huge difference to our Euro 2020 chances, and it would be a massive confidence booster if we can do that.
Aside from Scotland, I have thoroughly enjoyed the tournament so far.
Having watched every minute, it has been refreshing to see so much open, attacking football, and some teams have already made a big impact.
Italy, Belgium and France have been the most impressive, but Portugal also shone and have the attacking talent to go all the way. Their encounter with Germany – who were disappointing against the French – will be decisive, and if they come through it, the Portuguese might well repeat their 2016 success.
Of the other favourites, Spain look a shadow of their former selves, while England, comfortable against Croatia, will go deep into the tournament, but won’t win it.
As is often the case in the Euros, some less-fancied sides have shown up well and picked up notable results; I hope it will be Scotland’s turn to make the headlines tonight.
Wishing Christian a speedy recovery
The image of the week was that of a smiling Christian Eriksen giving the thumbs-up from his hospital bed as he delivered the message, “I’m fine”.
— DBU – En Del Af Noget Større (@DBUfodbold) June 15, 2021
In more than three decades in broadcasting I have covered all sorts of incidents, but the events at the Parken Stadium last Saturday were unquestionably the most difficult I have had to deal with.
We were doing commentary from the Denmark v Finland match when Christian collapsed. Initially, like most people, I assumed he would soon be back on his feet, but when the gravity of the situation became clear, the realisation struck that this was going to have to be handled with sensitivity and compassion.
When we came off air, it was with a heavy heart and fearing the worst, but the news came through soon after that he had been brought back and was awake in hospital.
I have the highest admiration and respect for everyone who helped save Christian’s life and hope this story will ultimately have the happiest of endings.