A good start is vital for Scotland if they to make history at the European Championships.
The national side’s first game at a major tournament since 1998 is against the Czech Republic at Hampden on Monday.
That clash looks to be the most winnable of our three Group D games.
Getting off to a good start and beating the Czechs would give us a great chance of getting through the group for the first time.
Three points on Monday would mean we wouldn’t necessarily need to beat England or Croatia to reach the knockout stage.
One draw or draws in both those outings could be enough if Scotland can get the better of the Czech Republic.
Getting off to a good start can make such a difference.
We’ve seen in previous tournaments where we’ve been expected to win our opening game and come unstuck and it’s derailed us.
I was there at the 1978 World Cup where we lost to Peru in the first game and then drew with Iran.
In 1990, we played unfancied Costa Rica first and lost and that ultimately cost us when it came to getting through.
One or two up top?
Given the importance of a good start in the group, it may be tempting for Steve Clarke to go for it with two strikers in Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams.
Although I certainly see the merits of that approach, we don’t need to go for broke right away against the Czechs.
As great as it would be to win at Hampden on Monday, at least taking something from the game is key.
A win would be great, but a draw wouldn’t be the worst result, whereas a defeat would put us on the back foot.
If Clarke does go with two up front then it could pay dividends.
But we have also seen Scotland do well when playing with only one up front.
England and Croatia clashes could suit Scots
In terms of the way Clarke likes us to play, the England and Croatia games could suit us.
Scotland have become very adept at being disciplined, organised and difficult to play through, while also being a threat on the counter-attack.
I look at our midfield options with the likes of John McGinn, Ryan Christie and others – they can turn defence into attack very quickly and cause teams problems.
Looking at the squad overall,we’re well-equipped to perform well and potentially get out of the group.
We’ve got pace and energy throughout the side, we carry a threat at the top end of the pitch and we work hard to shut down the opposition.
The other positive for Clarke is that he has a wealth of options in his squad.
In all three games he’ll have plenty of quality players he can put on as subs to change the game.
I hope I don’t end up with egg on my face – but I think we’ve got what it takes to get through.
Having never got beyond the group stage at a tournament before, progression at the Euros would be fantastic.