The entire history of international tournament football for Scotland has been defined by near misses – but that can change tonight.
Victory against Croatia at Hampden will be enough to take the national team into the last-16 of the European Championship.
As a nation at tournaments, we’ve always ended up in a position where we’ve had a chance to progress and then been left thinking “what if?”
If the current side can break through that barrier at the Euros, it would be a great achievement.
It would also lift the confidence of the squad and of Scottish football as a whole.
You only need to look at Wales. They reached the semi-finals at Euro 2016 and they’ve reached the knockout stage this time as well.
If Scotland can get out of the group, it shows everyone that we are good enough to compete on the big stage.
Progression to the last-16 would change the whole dynamic around the national team.
After more than 20 years of not qualifying and never progressing when we’ve been at tournaments, Scotland have been viewed as underdogs and minnows with only glorious failure to celebrate.
Achieving history at the Euros would result in a whole different attitude towards Scotland both from ourselves and other nations.
How do Scotland overcome Croatia?
To get the better of Croatia, Scotland need to recreate large parts of the performance at Wembley.
Against England, the Dark Blues were organised and disciplined defensively.
Once again that is needed at Hampden this evening, and Steve Clarke’s sides have always been good at that side of the game.
But, allied to that, the Scots need to carry a threat going forward.
We saw against England that we could cause the opposition problems and even in defeat to the Czech Republic we created chances.
Scotland showed on Friday night they can nullify good opposition while also carrying a threat.
That’s what is required against Croatia. But what has missing up to now is the killer touch to put the ball in the net.
It isn’t easy to find that killer touch, there’s no magic wand that can be waved, but Scotland need to find it this evening.
Although the Dark Blues have created opportunities in the first two games, they haven’t scored. Scotland need to score against the Croats.
However, if they keep creating chances it’s a matter of time before the goals will follow.
Will the goals come?
When it comes to scoring goals, there’s nothing radically different Scotland can do.
It may sound futile to say, but they have to keep creating chances and believing things will turn and the goals will come.
England have only scored one goal in the tournament and could you say they’ve created more chances than Scotland? I don’t think so.
Their strikeforce hasn’t been any more threating than ours. You could say the same about Croatia.
The goal they scored against the Czechs was an exceptional finish, but aside from that they have also struggled in front of goal.
Croatia don’t have a Patrik Schick like the Czech Republic and they don’t have Mario Mandzukic any more who was an integral part of their side which reached the World Cup final.
I’ve watched both of Croatia’s games and they’ve looked ponderous at times and like they have been lacking energy.
Whereas Scotland have played with good energy and enthusiasm.
If Clarke’s men can again play like that and create chances again, then there is a great opportunity there to win the game and qualify.
It’s in Scotland’s hands to qualify
Prior to last night’s results in Groups B and C there were no guarantees for Scotland when it came to progression.
However, it’s now clear what the Scots need to do – victory against Croatia will be enough to qualify for the last 16.
There are no ifs, no buts, no maybes. Four points will be enough for the national team to make history.
Although it won’t be easy to get the win needed at Hampden tonight, it’s a positive for Scotland that there is no need to worry about other results in other groups.