Berliner Tageblatt - McGinn says qualifying for last 16 at Euros 'everything' to Scotland

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McGinn says qualifying for last 16 at Euros 'everything' to Scotland
McGinn says qualifying for last 16 at Euros 'everything' to Scotland / Photo: © AFP

McGinn says qualifying for last 16 at Euros 'everything' to Scotland

Scotland midfielder John McGinn said securing a place in the last 16 of Euro 2024 "would mean everything" as his team seek victory over Hungary in their final Group A game on Sunday.

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History awaits Scotland if they can beat Hungary in Stuttgart and potentially qualify for the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time.

"Hopefully one of us will be a hero tomorrow night," said McGinn. "Don't really care if it's an own goal or deflection or anything, we'll take whatever comes.

"It would mean everything really (to get through)."

Scotland sit third in the group with just a point. They lost 5-1 to hosts Germany in the opening game of the tournament before drawing 1-1 against Switzerland.

A win over Hungary may not be enough to clinch second place but would at least leave them almost certain to advance as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Even a draw might be enough depending on results in other groups.

"We all know the magnitude of the game, it's a chance for us to write our name into the history books and become a unique Scotland team," said McGinn.

"For us everyone wants to be the hero but we need to focus on playing the game normally.

"We know we're capable of getting the three points and hopefully if it is me I'll take one off the right shin to go into the bottom corner."

McGinn was in a Scotland squad at Euro 2020 that found themselves in a similar position heading into their last group fixture, but a 3-1 loss to Croatia on that occasion led to their elimination.

The Aston Villa star feels the experience of playing at that tournament, which was Scotland's first major finals since the 1998 World Cup, will help as they attempt to avoid a repeat disappointment.

"I don't think we approached those games with the right mentality, it was a completely new thing, the magnitude of it, being at home and we quite frankly got beat by the better team in those games," said McGinn.

"This time it's different, it's a massive cup final for us and Hungary, they'll be hoping for a similar outcome to us.

"With the experience we've gained - we've obviously had a lot of injuries along the way - but us Scots are best at enduring adversity and hopefully we can prove a lot of people wrong tomorrow night."

- Family affair -

McGinn has Hungarian family connections, with his uncle and two young cousins living in Sopron, near the Austrian border.

He said there were split allegiances for Sunday's game.

"My uncle Joe and my little cousins Mark and Tamas live in Hungary, the boys were born in Scotland but they're half Hungarian," said McGinn.

"One of them wants Scotland to win, one of them wants Hungary to win. For us I hope young Tamas is sad tomorrow night."

In 11 previous attempts, at eight World Cups and three Euros, Scotland have always fallen at the group stage.

Scotland coach Steve Clarke, who made his international debut against Hungary in 1987, is trying to shield his players from the pressure.

"Everybody knows how big a game it is, you can talk and talk and talk about it. We probably did a little bit of that too much before the first (Germany) game," said Clarke.

"So we're trying to underplay this one, if you can ever underplay a game of this magnitude."

Clarke said before a ball was kicked in Germany that he was targeting four points.

"We feel good. We thought it might come down to needing to get something out of the last game in the group," he said.

"We've been in this position before but hopefully we can show that we've learned a few lessons."