World Cup 2022 - Draw Reaction
Scotland are going to Euro 2020 next summer.
However, before Steve Clarke finalises his squad for the tournament and we all spend an unseemly amount of money on Panini stickers hunting for a John McGinn, the qualifying campaign for the next FIFA World Cup will begin.
This process began today in Zurich as the qualifying groups were drawn. Scotland were drawn in a group of 6 alongside Denmark, Austria, Israel, Faroe Islands and Moldova.
Here's our instant reaction to the draw:
Pot 1: Denmark
FIFA Rank: 12th
Form this season: Finished 2nd in England's Nations League group, five points behind Belgium. They lost home and away to the Red Devils, took 4pts from England and beat Iceland home and away,
Last Meeting with Scotland: A 1-0 friendly win for Scotland in March 2016. Matt Ritchie scored the winner under Gordon Strachan.
Scotland’s record v Denmark: Played 16, Won 10, Drawn 0, Lost 6
Pot 2: Austria
FIFA Rank: 23rd
Form this season: In Nations League B they won promotion to League A, winning four of six. They took 4pts from Norway, six from Northern Ireland and only three from Romania - losing 3-2 at home.
Last Meeting with Scotland: 1-0 win for Scotland in a 2007 friendly - Garry O'Connor scoring the winning goal in Vienna.
Scotland’s record v Austria: Played 20, Won 6, Drawn 6, Lost 8
Pot 3: Scotland
FIFA Rank: 48th
Form this season: Finished 2nd in Nations League Group B2
Pot 4: Israel
FIFA Rank: 87th
Form this season: 3rd in Nations League Group B2 (behind Scotland)
Last Meeting with Scotland: Our last competitive game - November 2020 with Israel running out 1-0 winners in Netanya.
Scotland’s record v Israel: Played 8, Won 5, Drawn 1, Lost 2
Pot 5: Faroe Islands
FIFA Rank: 107th
Form this season: The Faroes won promotion from League D, topping their group of Malta, Latvia & Andorra with 12pts.
Last Meeting with Scotland: A 3-0 friendly Scotland win in 2010.
Scotland’s record v Faroe Islands: Played 9, Won 7, Drawn 2, Lost 0
Pot 6: Moldova
FIFA Rank: 177th
Form this season: Moldova were relegated from Nations League Group C3, only picking up one point in a group with Slovenia, Greece & Kosovo (a 1-1 draw with Kosovo).
Last Meeting with Scotland: A 2-0 win for Scotland at Hampden under Walter Smith in World Cup Qualifying. The game before that was Berti's last in charge, a 1-1 draw in Chisinau.
Scotland’s record v Moldova: Played 2, Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 1
The Group Winner will qualify automatically while the runner-up will be placed in a Playoff Path (similar to Euro 2020 qualifying) with a one-leg Semi-Final and a one-leg Final held in March 2022.
Qualifying kicks off in March 2021 with a triple-header of matches, Scotland's last competitive games before Steve Clarke must pick his squad for the Euros.
Fixtures will be confirmed in due course.
Well then, without wanting to tempt fate it's hard to see how that draw could have gone much better for Scotland.
From Pot 1, in Denmark, we've drawn probably the only nation that doesn't sit within the Continent's Elite.
In Pot 2, Austria are a solid opponent but provide a decent opponent and an easy away trip for the Tartan Army.
Israel in Pot 4 is frankly ludicrous luck, given we've played them so many times in recent years. Let's hope familiarity breeds success.
The Faroe Islands are a recent addition to Pot 5 after their Nations League success but should be a relatively comfortable opponent.
Finally, Moldova in Pot 6 could be a relatively uncomfortable away trip but a good chance for six points.
It's really hard to predict how this group will go. You'd predict the top four seeds will take points off each other - meaning that a strong home record could be enough for a Playoff or more.
We wrote in the Playoff about the potential for a World Cup Revenge Tour - this group certainly offers that. There's ghosts to be put to rest in Israel, the Faroes & Moldova.
With fixtures to be confirmed, this is a really exciting draw. Roll on March!