Seven days to go. That’s just 168 hours – give or take depending on when you’re reading this – until Scotland takes centre stage for a second successive European Championships.

Okay, go on then, let’s take it a step further. There’s roughly only 10,080 minutes between now and then – or 604,800 seconds – until the eyes of the world watch Steve Clarke’s side kick off Euro 2024 against hosts Germany.

Excitement should begin to hit fever pitch at around 7.45pm this evening as Finland are welcomed to Hampden for the final warm-up match ahead of the tournament. A packed-out crowd at the national stadium is sure to be up for it, because, as established, the countdown is edging closer to Friday, June 14.

Around 100,000 Scots are expected to find their way to Germany later this month. You’d have to imagine there won’t be many other countries participating in the competition who will have the backing of such a huge, buoyant following. Of course, the travelling Tartan Army will be dotted around various parts of the country, although aside from the opening game in Munich, it seems likely the vast majority will congregate in the west.

Everyone knows someone heading out to Deutschland. And if, like me, you’re one of the unlucky sods who have to stay at home while several people in your friends' circles get set for copious amounts of lager-filled steins, currywurst and ultimately, just a right good time, then I feel your pain.

I am jealous. There, I said it.

Thankfully I will get my European away day with Kilmarnock this summer. But I wish everyone taking planes, trains and automobiles well on their travels, and those fortunate enough to have tickets for Scotland’s games against the hosts, Switzerland and Hungary should rightly cherish the moments of ecstasy when Andy Robertson & co. take to the field.

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Writing this as the national team takes part in an opening training session at Hampden, my biggest hope is that there are no more injuries for the head coach to contend with. That said, for all there is a lengthy list of crocked players, only Lyndon Dykes and Aaron Hickey would’ve been guaranteed a start at the Allianz Arena. Any major knocks to the likes of Robbo, John McGinn or Scott McTominay between now and kick-off in Munich though, and the Scotland team bus would be as well turning around on the Autobahn.

Never mind training, there’s one more game to contend with before all focus for Clarke and his players turns to Julian Nagelsmann’s side. Finland will prove a decent test in the final rehearsal before the Euros. Let’s hope there’s more about Scotland in this game compared to Monday’s drab friendly encounter with Gibraltar.

Before anyone jumps on my back, yes, I know, it was a glorified training game.

Yes, Scotland won.

Yes, that result ended a run of seven games without a win, of which many defeats have been suffered during that time.

Yes, it allowed Clarke to get a look at some players on the periphery of his squad. Yes, it allowed for Ross McCrorie’s debut at right-back.

Yes, it allowed for experimentation.

Yes, the scoreline could’ve and should’ve been greater.

However, anyone who only has positive things to say about Monday evening’s game is, to put it bluntly, kidding themselves. It was a laborious task sitting down on the couch to watch the game in sunny Faro. It didn’t get any easier the longer the game went on either. I’d go as far as to say that if I didn’t need to watch the game for work purposes, then I probably would’ve turned it off. Naturally, factors such as a sticky pitch, a low block from the opponents and a general lack of match sharpness all played a part, but I don’t think I speak alone here when I say a better performance was expected regardless of the circumstances.

Taking those factors to the side for the time being, what were the issues for Scotland? Well, the glaring deficiency was the lack of cutting-edge up front. Che Adams showed how it’s done when he lashed home with a thunderous volley late in the game, but until that point, Ryan Christie’s smart near-post finish aside, chances were wasted left, right and centre. In no way does the fault totally lay at Lawrence Shankland’s feet in that regard – he only really had one opportunity. James Forrest had chances, as did Christie, as did Grant Hanley, Ryan Porteous and others.

The scoreline didn’t matter a jot, I get the point, it was a friendly, however, with Germany now very much visible on the horizon, Clarke must’ve been a little concerned internally at his side’s wastefulness in front of goal. A killer instinct will be needed in these competitive games. Tournament football is notoriously brutal, so we’ll need to take our chances.

Michael Stewart continuously pointed out on co-commentary duty that John McGinn’s influence was nowhere near the level Clarke needed it to be. I agreed with this observation. Our talisman was unusually quiet and uninvolved. Maybe some of the aforementioned variables determined that outcome, but there’s no disputing that he’s our best player when bang at it, and if we’re going to qualify out of Group A then he’ll be needed at top form, as he’s shown for Scotland numerous times before. Thankfully, the 29-year-old showed his quality with a lovely pick out for the second goal, standing the ball up brilliantly for Adams to score.

For balance, it would be remiss of me not to recognise that it was a different formation implemented by Clarke, and there were also some changes to the personnel. Callum McGregor, McTominay, Jack Hendry, Angus Gunn, Kieran Tierney and Adams will likely start in Germany, for example.

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For all that I’ve made the case that we need to wrap our top performers in cotton wool over the next seven days, conversely, I also believe that the strongest team – the starting XI that will take to the field against Germany – should play from the beginning against Finland.

Those two feelings can co-exist, right? Luckily, that decision lies firmly with the manager and not us fans. For instance, does Billy Gilmour or Ryan Christie drop out of the team in midfield? With McGinn, McTominay and McGregor viewed as nailed-on starters, there’s probably only room for one. Before that, he faces the ‘impossible’ task of omitting two players from his 28-man squad. Good luck, Steve.

Back to the point, playing the team that starts against Germany allows for some much-needed match practice, to build confidence together and keep their sharpness ticking over. By all means ring the changes after an hour to give others a go, like young Tommy Conway, and rest our key players.

There won’t be any tifo display for the Hampden send-off this time around. The Tartan Army will make plenty of noise to the tune of ‘We’re on our way,’ though, and it’s important both the players and crowd feed off each other simultaneously to keep the connection as strong as ever before heading to the airport.