Back in September I posted about what Scotland would need to do to qualify for the European Championships in 2016. We're now four matches in, and so far things are progressing nicely.
I said I figured we would need to:
- Beat Georgia at Ibrox on the 11th of October. Done.
- Beat the Republic of Ireland at Parkhead on the 14th of November. Done
- We absolutely must beat Gibraltar at Hampden on the 29th of March.
- We need to beat Georgia in Georgia on the 4th of September.
- We need to beat Poland at Hampden on the 8th of October.
- We absolutely must beat Gibraltar in Portugal on the 11th of October.
Of course, we were beaten by Germany in Germany, which probably surprised nobody. However, we did manage to pick up a point against Poland away from home, which is rather better than expected.
And so we end the year with 7 points out of a possible 12, with Poland leading the group on 10, Germany and the Republic of Ireland on 7 each, Georgia on 3, and Gibraltar with 0 points.
Looking forward, you would still expect Germany to top the group with near-maximum points. Realistically, we're in a three-way race with Poland and the Republic of Ireland, with one guaranteed qualification spot and one play-off spot up for grabs.
At the moment, Poland are very clearly in the driver's seat, having unexpectedly beaten Germany. The one thing that does stand in our favour is that our next match is Gibraltar at home, while Poland and RoI are yet to meet. (Ideally, both the Poland/RoI matches would end up as draws. But almost any split of those six points could help us.)
(Of course, knowing us, we'll contrive to slip up against Gibraltar. That's a match that we should win, but that doesn't mean we will win it. But the thing is that if we don't win it, we can probably forget about qualification entirely.)
So, bring on March!
#55: "Winnie the Pooh", by A.A. Milne (a book from The List)