International matches often offer better value in terms of available betting offers from the likes of oddschecker as well. So what is in store for Steve Clarke and his boys?
Group A and Qualification
Scotland have been drawn in Group A. As is almost always the case when it comes to the draw, it could have been worse, it could have been better. You often don’t know how lucky or unlucky a draw is until we are into the meat of qualification, when the fancied team has failed to deliver, or the side no one was even thinking about have put on a record-breaking run.
As well as Scotland (ranked 42nd), the four teams are Cyprus (110st), Georgia (78th), Norway (43rd) and Spain (10th). Twenty-four teams qualify for the tournament, which takes place next summer in Germany. The hosts have gained automatic qualification.
The top two in each group qualify, as well three runners-up via the play-offs. There is also a route via the Nations League, which is so convoluted many will lose the will to live after studying the setup. The nuts and bolts of it is that Scotland really need to finish second in their group, which would eliminate all the stress and probable heartbreak that comes with the play-offs.
Second place, on paper at least, does look very achievable. Although it looks like the games against Norway will be pivotal, Scotland also need to make sure they do not do their usual business of narrowly losing away to the top seeds and then failing to pick up all six points against the group’s whipping boys.
The opening two games will put that to the test. Scotland are at home to Cyprus for Matchday 1 on March 25th. Three days later they host Spain. Anything less than three points will be very disappointing, anything more than three a huge bonus.
Steve Clarke does have some selection worries ahead of this double header, with the usual combination of injuries, as well as several players just not getting the minutes into their legs at their clubs.
Autumn Run In
The chances are, Scotland’s fate will be decided in the run of four fixtures next Autumn. They go to Cyprus in September, and then have two very tricky away ties in Spain and Georgia. The Tartan Army will hope that when Matchday 10 rolls around on November 19th, Scotland are already home and dry for their game against Norway or, at the very least, that qualification is still within grasp.