Scotland’s road to UEFA EURO 2020 moves on to the next leg this weekend, as Alex McLeish’s side will learn their opponents for the upcoming qualifying campaign.
The UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifying draw will be made in Dublin on Sunday morning, with proceedings getting underway at 11am. All 55 UEFA nations will be drawn into one of ten groups, with no nation guaranteed qualification for the first time in the competition’s history.
The tournament will be hosted by 12 different nations across Europe to mark its 60th anniversary, with Hampden Park having been selected as one of the host venues.
The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for the finals, with the remaining four places at UEFA Euro 2020 being decided by the playoffs.
By virtue of winning their UEFA Nations League group, Scotland are already assured of at least a place in the play-offs ahead of the tournament, providing a valuable safety net in the event of the side missing out on automatic qualification.
Victory over Israel in the UEFA Nations League decider also confirmed Scotland’s place amongst the third tier of seeds for the qualifying draw, alongside nations such as Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Slovakia.
Who are Scotland’s possible opponents?
The top two tiers in the draw are, unsurprisingly, loaded with the continent’s heavyweights, with a wealth of major tournament experience between them.
Tier one is split into two sections, with the countries that have qualified for the UEFA Nations League finals – Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands and England – guaranteed to be in groups A-D. This ensures they have a free fixture weekend in which to compete for the UEFA Nations League title.
A potential clash with the Auld Enemy is one that would doubtless spark countless memories amongst Scotland supporters. The most recent meeting between the two sides resulted in a 2-2 draw at Hampden in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, a match that saw Leigh Griffiths net an unforgettable duo of free-kicks.
The remaining six teams in the top tier of seeds include opponents against whom Scotland have a significant number of memorable moments, not least world champions France, with James McFadden’s strike at the Parc des Princes in 2007 now etched for eternity in the collective consciousness of Scotland supporters worldwide.
Beaten FIFA World Cup finalists at Russia 2018, Croatia are also amongst the potential opponents for McLeish’s men. Scotland currently hold the upper hand over Zlatko Dalic’s side, having claimed a brace of victories in the qualification campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
One team in particular stands out as the opponent all other teams want to avoid from tier two – and with good reason. Despite a lean couple of years, 2014 FIFA World Cup champions Germany remain a formidable test for any team in world football.
Pot two also contains Home Nations rivals Wales, the two nations having faced each other 106 times since their first meeting in 1876.
View from the dugout
Scotland assistant coach Peter Grant: “The first challenge for us was to qualify for the playoffs through the Nations League and we’ve done that.
“The boys are full of confidence from the last two games and now our next challenge is to qualify from the group.
“We’d be happy to take anyone on. We’ve shown that we’ve got top quality players who can produce in the big games, so whoever we get we’ve got to be prepared for what they’ll bring.
“I’m sure the boys will be relishing the challenge and hopefully we can take another step towards a major championship.
“It was so important [to top the Nations League group]. There’s no doubt in my mind that, despite the results, the friendlies we played were the right thing to do.
“Playing against the best players from the likes of Belgium and Portugal allows our boys to learn from the best.
“We came through the other side stronger for it, and it prepares us for whoever we get in the draw.
“Alex expressed the importance of challenging for qualification to the boys in one of our first meetings as a squad.
“This team will be remembered forever if they qualify – we’ve seen some wonderful Scotland sides, for whom qualification was second nature, but it’s been a long time since those days.
“With the support of the fan base, the press, everyone, it’s time to start pushing Scotland forward in a positive light once more.
“We know we can be a match for anyone and hopefully we can get our fans back to a major championship where they belong.”
How to watch
The draw for UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying takes place on Sunday at 11am. Scotland supporters can watch on the BBC Red Button and online as well as follow along on Sky Sports News, UEFA.com and @ScotlandNT.
The first round of fixtures is scheduled for 21-23 March 2019.
Full list of seedings:
UEFA Nations League pot (4): Switzerland*, Portugal*, Netherlands*, England*
Pot 1 (6): Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland
Pot 2 (10): Germany, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Ukraine*, Denmark*, Sweden*, Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic
Pot 3 (10): Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland*, Norway*, Serbia*, Finland*, Bulgaria, Israel
Pot 4 (10): Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Georgia*
Pot 5 (10): FYR Macedonia*, Kosovo*, Belarus*, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands
Pot 6 (5): Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, San Marino
*Already assured of at least a play-off place after winning UEFA Nations League group