Scotland at San Marino
UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying | Group I
Sunday, March 24 | Noon CT | ESPN3, WatchESPN
San Marino Stadium | Serravalle, San Marino
Johnny Russell and Scotland will be licking their lips on Sunday as they travel to face San Marino, an enclaved microstate surrounded by Italy that ranks dead last in the FIFA rankings at No. 211. The UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier will kick off at noon CT, streaming live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
Despite facing an inferior opponent, urgency will be high for the visitors this weekend. Scotland opened their Euro qualifying journey with a 3-0 loss at Kazakhstan on Thursday, a game that saw Russell enter in the 61st minute with his team already trailing by three goals. The substitute appearance gave Russell his 10th career cap, but the forward's introduction came with the contest already in doubt.
Headlined by world No. 1 Belgium, the six teams in Group I will square off in a home-and-away, double-round-robin format between now and November for a total of 10 qualifying games. The top two finishers will advance to UEFA Euro 2020, which is scheduled to take place in 12 cities in 12 different European countries during the summer of 2020.
Even if Scotland fails to secure a top-two finish in Group I, they will have another shot at qualifying for the competition via the Euro 2020 playoffs one year from now. Scotland earned a spot in the Euro 2020 playoffs via their first-place finish in Group 1 of the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League C, which also resulted in promotion to League B for the 2020-21 tournament.
UEFA EURO 2020 QUALIFYING: GROUP I TABLE
Russell has featured in each of Sporting’s seven matches this season, including four in the club's run to the Concacaf Champions League Semifinals. The dynamic winger, who opened his 2019 scoring account in Sunday's 1-1 road draw against the Colorado Rapids, is coming off a tremendous 2018 campaign that saw him become the fourth player in Sporting history to hit double-digit goals and assists in a single regular season.
A breakout with Sporting has facilitated Russell’s return to the Scotland national team. He has earned six of his 10 career caps since June 2018, having previously represented his country four times at the senior level from 2014-2015. On the current 26-man roster assembled by Scotland head coach Alex McLeish, Russell is the lone player to ply his club trade outside of Europe.
Goalkeepers (3): Scott Bain (Celtic), Liam Kelly (Livingston), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland)
Defenders (8): David Bates (Hamburg), Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock), Scott McKenna (Aberdeen), Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Hearts), Kieran Tierney (Celtic)
Midfielders (8): Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), John Fleck (Sheffield United), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Callum Paterson (Cardiff City), Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen)
Forwards (7): Oliver Burke (Celtic), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Oliver McBurnie (Swansea City), Marc McNulty (Hibernian), Lewis Morgan (Sunderland), Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City)