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England V Scotland: Why the oldest derby in football is still the best


The build up to the oldest rivalry in football has been typically bullish from both sides of the border, as England and Scotland prepare to do battle once more.

The oldest international match in football has always been one that has spiked interest in both nations, with the chance to get one over on the 'Auld Enemy' more enticing than ever.

The context of this particular clash raises some interesting points to consider before the teams step out at Celtic Park, Scotland's temporary home, this evening.

Both sides comes into the game off the back of competitive wins in their respective European qualifying campaigns. But whilst Scotland are buoyed by their dogged victory over Ireland on Friday, a rivalry that is not without it's significance itself, England came from behind to beat Slovenia 3-1 at Wembley.

Goals Wayne Rooney, who celebrated his 100th England appearance on Saturday, and two from Danny Welbeck made sure Jordan Henderson's untimely own goal was nothing more than a minor slip for both England and the Liverpool man.

But the goalless first half drew much frustration from both pundits and fans, and despite winning all four of their qualifiers so far, the shadow of Brazil still looms over England, as they look to prove that they can compete at the highest international level.

Their qualifying group however doesn't give them the chance to do that. Whilst they could have been more convincing against the likes of Slovenia and San Marino, they don't provide the kind of test that England need, which is why tonight's match takes on more importance.

A good result against a Scotland side who have been galvanised under the management of Gordon Strachan, or perhaps more importantly a good performance to boot, may go some way to easing the concerns from some quarters.

Likewise for Scotland, their new found momentum will give them cause to believe that they can upset their neighbours from the south in a fixture that they are historically usually second best in.

But for all importance of the match in it's singularity, the oldest rivalries will always run deepest, and in this respect tonight's game will always be more than just one match.

England may have more competitive history with other nations, tied in with political tensions like the Falklands war which intensified the rivalry with Argentina in the 1980s, or the constant heartbreak that the Germans have inflicted upon us since 1966 (just don't mention the war!), but Scotland and England will always be eternal enemies on the football pitch.

The hundreds of years of history between the two nations is embedded into our footballing rivalry, so that no matter what partisan rifts may separate us domestically, both nations will unite to face their oldest of enemies.

Celtic Park will be awash with fans from Rangers and Celtic, lost in the masses of the Tartan Army, whilst a vocal corner of England support will undoubtedly boast fans from all the teams who battle it out for the Premier League every year.

But this match gives all of them cause to put aside their local rivalries and support their countries in a way no other international friendly can.

Not that there'll be anything "friendly" about it mind you.

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