Scotland will be amongst the top tier of seeds for a women’s UEFA European Championship qualifying draw for the first time in their history, as the draw for UEFA EURO 2021 qualifying takes place in Switzerland this Thursday.
The draw, which will take place in Nyon at 12.30pm (UK time), will see a record 48 nations discover their opponents for the 13th iteration of Europe’s premier women’s competition.
With the squad continuing to build towards a debut appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer, Shelley Kerr and her side have been rewarded for their form over recent seasons with a place amongst the continent’s elite.
As a result, it will be impossible for Scotland to draw Europe’s heavyweight sides, including defending champions the Netherlands, World Cup host nation France and eight-time European champions Germany.
England qualify automatically for the tournament as host nation, leaving each of the sides in Thursday’s draw competing for one of the 15 remaining places at the finals.
Who could Scotland face?
Whilst being in the top tier of seeds for the draw means that Kerr and her squad will avoid the biggest names in the draw, there are still a number of nations in the draw that could provide a stern test of Scotland’s credentials.
Indeed, the beaten finalists in 2017 find themselves in the second pot of seeds for Thursday’s draw. Able to call upon the services of the ever-impressive Pernilla Harder, Denmark will pose a threat to any nation drawn against them.
Scotland will already be well aware of the threats posed by Iceland, following defeat by Jon Hauksson’s side in La Manga earlier this year. The two sides have recent history in UEFA Women’s European Championship qualifying, however, having both qualified from Group One ahead of UEFA EURO 2017.
Having narrowly missed out on qualification for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, Wales will be looking to take that final step in their quest for a first appearance at a major tournament. Spearheaded by the influential Jess Fishlock, the Lyon midfielder will be hoping to fire her country to England in two years’ time.
The remaining two home nations are also potential opponents for Kerr’s side – the Republic of Ireland lie in wait in pot three, whilst Northern Ireland are amongst those to be drawn from pot four.
How the draw works
Each of the 48 participating nations will be drawn into one of nine groups. Two groups will be comprised of six teams, with the remaining seven featuring five countries apiece.
The draw will see teams from pot five allocated their groups first, meaning that tier one nations – including Scotland – will be the last to be drawn into their respective groups.
Matches will be played between 26 August 2019 and 22 September 2020, with the group winners and best three runners-up qualifying automatically for UEFA EURO 2021.
The three remaining places at the tournament will be decided through the playoffs, which will take place from 19-27 October 2020.
Seedings in full
Pot One: France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Scotland, Italy.
Pot Two: Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, Russia, Wales, Ukraine, Finland, Czech Republic.
Pot Three: Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus.
Pot Four: Turkey, Slovakia, Croatia, Northern Ireland, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Albania, Moldova.
Pot Five: Faroe Islands, Malta, FYR Macedonia, Estonia, Montenegro, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Kosovo.