Thursday, September 11, 2014

Targeting Qualification

I meant to post this on Monday, but it slipped my mind.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch the Germany/Scotland match on Sunday, as we've cancelled our Sky subscription. I suppose I could have gone up to BtW, but I was hampered by not really wanting to. Still, by all accounts it was a fairly creitable performance, and although the defeat was unfortunate, it was hardly unexpected. Besides, at only 2-1 it was not the humiliation that might have been feared.

Still, it does leave Scotland playing catch-up in a fairly competitive group.

In order to qualify, I think we need to do all of the following. A failure at any point probably puts it beyond us.

  • We need to beat Georgia at Ibrox on the 11th of October. This will be a tough game, but it's certainly doable.
  • We need to beat the Republic of Ireland at Parkhead on the 14th of November. This will be one of our biggest tests, but it's a must-win.
  • We absolutely must beat Gibraltar at Hampden on the 29th of March. This should be a gimme, but with Scotland you never know - we have a really nasty habit of playing badly against the 'minnows', perhaps out of a delusion that we're not minnows ourselves these days.
  • We need to beat Georgia in Georgia on the 4th of September. This is our best chance of getting those last few points we need - if we fail to win this match we'll need something away to the Republic of Ireland or Poland, or at home to Germany, all of which will be much tougher prospects.
  • We need to beat Poland at Hampden on the 8th of October. This will be the other great test of the campaign, but again is a must-win.
  • We absolutely must beat Gibraltar in Portugal on the 11th of October. If we get this far with even a chance of qualification, it would be tragic to lose it on the last day. Unfortunately, by then it may be out of our hands.

That gives us six wins, for a total of 18 points. That should be enough, since Germany are likely to win the group with near-maximum points, and the second-place teams also auto-qualify. (The best third-place team also qualify, with the other third-place teams going into play-offs. However, I don't rate our chances of getting through a playoff, so we should really target second in the group... which will be a big ask.)

Of course, absolutely none of those results can be taken for granted. Even Gibraltar should not be taken lightly - you still have to beat the team in front of you. And I don't think we should expect to get anything away from home against Poland or the Republic of Ireland - our best hope there is to make sure we win our home matches, and hope they draw their two against one another.

It's going to be a tough group to qualify from, but I think it's also our best chance in a long, long time. So, here's hoping.

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