UEFA Nations League
Scotland v Israel
Tuesday 20 November, kick-off 7.45pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Victory for Scotland against Israel tonight would not only secure a vital play-off spot for UEFA EURO 2020, it would also secure promotion to Group B of the UEFA Nations League - throwing up the tantalising prospect of meeting some of Europe’s heavyweights in the next iteration of the competition.
Perhaps the biggest hitter of them all comes in the shape of four-time world champions Germany, whose relegation from League A was confirmed last week.
Despite a poor showing at the FIFA World Cup earlier this year and their subsequent relegation, Joachim Löw’s side remain a force to be reckoned with. Marshalled by Manuel Neuer between the posts, any team that boasts attacking threats such as Leroy Sane, Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller is one not to be taken lightly.
Similarly, Croatia find themselves resigned to life in the second tier after their dramatic relegation at the hands of England this past weekend. Yet their memorable run to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final underlines the quality manager Zlatko Dalic has at his disposal, with the midfield trio of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic as good as any in world football.
The iconic Icelandic thunderclap is a sound that could soon be ringing around Hampden, after the UEFA Euro 2016 quarter-finalists finished bottom of group A2. With Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Berg Gudmundsson each starring in the English Premier League, Iceland would be a dangerous opponent for any nation.
A familiar opponent for Scotland in recent qualifying campaigns, Poland could once again be on their way to the home of Scottish football. Whilst the goals of Robert Lewandowski were not enough to save the team from relegation from League A, Scottish fans are all too aware of the abilities of those within the Polish squad.
A further brace of sides that qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 could potentially lie in store for McLeish and his players. Austria, with Marko Arnautovic and David Alaba in their ranks, and Wales – spearheaded by world-class talents in the form of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey – have both avoided relegation from League B, and will be in the pot when the draw is made for the next campaign.
Yet first and foremost, McLeish’s men know that they have business to attend to on the pitch. Victory over Israel tomorrow night remains the primary objective, with Scotland looking to end the year on the highest of notes in front of their home supporters.