Scotland's horrible history in make-or-break deciders - as Clarke's Euro 2024 hopefuls look to break cycle

Long-suffering Tartan Army gathering in hope and expectation for Hungary clash

What did the ever-quotable Mark Twain reputedly say about history? It doesn’t repeat itself. But if often rhymes.

As Scotland aim to pen their own epic poem of heroic over-achievement at Euro 2024, it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge our national team’s history when it comes to group stage deciders at major finals. It does not make for inspiring reading.

Steve Clarke’s men cannot exactly take inspiration from their predecessors as they look to inflict defeat on Hungary. Nor should they be overly affected by the failings of previous generations; nothing that happened in Argentina 46 years ago is likely to have much bearing on the current Scotland team’s ability to get a win in Stuttgart.

But our shared footballing back story? It is what it is. A tale of regular qualification, variable expectations – and inevitable disappointment on the biggest stage.

We’ve ignored the oddities of Scotland’s first two appearances at World Cup finals, if only because they feel just too distant. For the record, manager Andy Beattie resigned after losing our opener to Austria in the strangely formatted 1954 tournament in Switzerland, which saw the Scots play just two games (they also lost 7-0 to Uruguay) before heading home. Four years later, as Uruguay hosted, our boys at least claimed a single point – courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia – but finished bottom of their group following defeats to Paraguay and France.

Scotland would spend 16 years waiting for their return to the biggest tournament of them all. That’s where we take up our story of make-or-break group games with everything on the line …