Assessing Scotland’s Euro Chances


So we now all know who’ll face in Scotland as they seek to qualify for Euro 2016.

Germany, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Georgia and Gibraltar are the teams standing in the Scots way as they bid to reach a major final for the first time since 1998.

The group doesn’t look that easy or the hardest draw the Scottish team have had in the past fifteen years or so.

Scotland’s form has been extremely unpredictable. That’s why it’s so hard to say where they will finish in this up and coming campaign.

I doubt the bookies will take bets on Germany qualifying for France 16. They should and probably will coast the group as the top-side. They are one of the favourites to go on and lift this years World Cup. So first place in this group should be nailed on.

Tiny Gibraltar will be taking part in their first qualifying process. The minnows will be seen as the whipping boys and will be very lucky to get a point from any of these fixtures. They are a side used to facing and losing to the likes of Shetland, Jersey and Greenland.

Poland, Ireland, Georgia and Scotland will then battle it out for the golden second spot or the possibly lucrative third position. (Rules of qualification: With France 2016 being a larger competition there will be 24 qualifiers instead of the previous 16. That means the nine group winners and runners up qualify automatically, as does the best placed third placed side. The eight remaining third placed teams will then face a play-off to decide which four sides take up the remaining positions.)

This is where it gets dangerous for the Scottish national side. They don’t usually do well in a group that has so many sides that are capable of cutting each other’s throats.

Just look at the World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign. That looked decent too, but Scotland floundered and by the time they got going they were already out of the running.

Georgia is not an international powerhouse but are likely to trip up other teams, especially in Tbilisi. They managed to beat Croatia at home and got a draw with France in recent qualifying ties. Back in 2007 they easily beat the Scottish national side 2-0.

Poland aren’t thinking beyond their big rivals Germany. I caught up with Polish football writer Ryan Hubbard who said this…

“Arch-rivals Germany will of course be the main focus of the draw. Poland know that qualification is in their own hands. Should they play to their abilities, qualification should be a formality. However play as they have in recent qualifying games and it could be another tournament passing by without the Poles. “

Poland has a good core to their squad with plenty of faces in the EPL, Serie A and of course the Bundesliga. Should they all pull together in the same direction then they will be a big threat to Scotland’s chances of second or third spot. Poland and Scotland will get an early chance to size each other up before their qualification matches as they have a friendly coming up in early March.

Ireland is in a bit of a transition. Quite a few of the Irish players have recently retired or are on their last legs in terms of international football. Martin O’Neill needs to come in and really get the squad gelled and ready for battle straight away. The fixtures with Scotland will be fiery and highly anticipated encounters. Obviously with the Ireland management team having close links to Scottish football it could be interesting to see if they can get an edge over the Scots or will both teams just cancel each other out?

They have two key players who were both born in the West of Scotland (Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy), that too can add a bit of spice to the fixture.

All in all Gordon Strachan will hope his squads resurgence can continue and they can seal a return to France for the Tartan Army and get to a major final once again.

For that to happen the Scots will need focus, endeavour, desire and a huge slice of luck. They lacked all of that at various times during the last qualification process but surely our change in fortune is just around the corner.

Who knows this Scottish side may be the first to play in an international elite competition representing an independent Scotland. Or they could beat Germay, lose to Gibraltar and finish fourth, losing a final qualification spot due to goal difference! Nothing would surprise me anymore.


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