Callum McGregor urges Scotland to stay calm and in control before crucial Hungary clash

Estimated read time 3 min read

Callum McGregor insists Scotland’s players must temper excitement over potentially reaching the last 16 of Euro 2024. The 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Cologne means the Scots should qualify for a finals knockout stage for the first time with a win over Hungary on Sunday but the Celtic captain has warned his ­teammates there remains significant work to do.

“Over the next few days everybody will be buzzing,” McGregor said. “We just need to stay calm and recover. We have two days of ­recovery and then we can plan our way into the game, stay calm, and when we arrive ­everyone will be desperate for us to get through. We are the same, but we have to bring a level or performance that matches that ambition.

“It can’t just be constant running, running, running; you have to control the game as well. We have to do a lot right on Sunday. Hungary have been good. Their two games have been tight. A physical side but they can play as well.

“We have to recover and bring the same energy level and the same tempo and the same aggression as we did against Switzerland.”

Scotland’s players were castigated for their showing iin the ­tournament’s opening game against ­Germany. Steve Clarke always felt the ­Switzerland and Hungary matches were likely to provide Scotland’s best ­opportunity for points. McGregor agrees but accepts the criticism that followed the 5-1 hammering against the hosts.

“That is football and we ­­understand that everybody just wants us to do so well,” said the midfielder. “When you get a bad result, ­perspective goes out the window a little bit. When the draw was made you were probably targeting the last two games.

“It was probably the manner of the defeat the other night which made everyone feel a bit sore and not great. As footballers, you have to deal with that. You have to try to put it right. We made the first step of putting it right and we arrive into the game on Sunday now with belief that if we play equally as well, if not better, we give ourselves a right good chance.”

Billy Gilmour in action against Switzerland. View image in fullscreen

Scotland would have taken this Group A position before a ball was kicked. “Absolutely,” agreed McGregor. “I think if you asked ­anybody, they would.”

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McGregor excelled against the Swiss. In the latter stages of the game, his pass completion percentage sat at 100%. It was still above 90% when the match finished. McGregor reserved praise, though, for Billy Gilmour, with the pair forming a highly-effective partnership at the base of the Scotland midfield.

“He was excellent,” said McGregor of the Brighton player. “When he comes in he takes the ball and he gets us playing. I like playing inside him because he will take the ball and will start to connect the game. At this level you need to have the ball, you can’t just defend for 90 minutes. It’s important that when you get it you retain it, you keep the ball and give yourself a breather in the game. We like playing in there together. He was fantastic.”


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