Scotland’s journey to France 2016

Date: 9th June 2015

IT IS international week and, for once, we are actually thankful of its arrival because there is no competitive club football for the next several weeks. We are at a crucial stage in Scotland’s European Qualifying campaign, with five games played out of 10.

This weekend’s tie against the Republic of Ireland is the sixth game in our journey for France 2016 and begins the second round of fixtures. So, we thought that it would be a good idea to take a look at the journey in qualifying so far, as well as the next steps along the way.

GERMANY 2 1 SCOTLAND the first match of our qualifying campaign was a daunting away trip to the new world champions. Fans were filled with trepidation and when Thomas Muller scored the opening goal after 18 minutes, those fears intensified. However, the brave Scots rallied and Ikechi Anya levelled the scores in the 66th minute. Our men could not hold on, however, as Muller struck again just four minutes after Gordon Strachan’s men were level. Charlie Mulgrew was send off late on, as Scotland succumbed to an expected, but spirited, opening loss.

SCOTLAND 1 0 GEORGIA — after our impressive opening showing against Germany, much was expected in our first home game of qualifying against Georgia. The Scots pressurised and pressurised their opponents but could not find a way through the resilient Georgian defence. However, in the 28th minute, Shaun Maloney’s effort was saved by the keeper, but luckily bounced in off defender Akaki Kubutia to give Strachan his first win in qualifying, albeit a narrow one.

POLAND 2 2 SCOTLAND — another tough away trip loomed for the Scots next, this time up against surprise package Poland, who had just triumphed 2-0 over Germany in their last game. A result was necessary and we got one, which kept us three points behind Poland and Ireland, but more importantly, level with Germany. Krzysztof Maczynski‘s opening effort for the Poles was cancelled out by Maloney after 17minutes, before Steven Naismith put us ahead in the 57th minute. However, we could not hold on as Arkadiusz Milik scored 15minutes from time to keep the Poles top of Group D, but give Scotland a valuable away point.

SCOTLAND 1 0 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND crucial home tie against Martin O’Neill’s men at Celtic Park while Hampden was not quite ready from it’s use at the Commonwealth Games. It was another match of limited chances for both sides. Arguably, Ireland created the better opportunities but once again, it was Maloney who popped up with an important winner 15 minutes from time. The win moved Scotland on to seven points, the same as Germany and their opponents here, just three points behind Poland.

SCOTLAND 6 1 GIBRALTAR a highly-anticipated tie at home against lowly Gibraltar. Everyone was expecting a Scottish win, it was only a question of by how much. Surprisingly, it took 18minutes for Scotland to open the scoring, from the penalty spot. Maloney converted and everyone expected the Scots to push on and get several goals. However, from kick-off, Lee Casciaro went up the park and scored the away side’s first-ever competitive goal. Normal service resumed as Maloney netted once more from the spot, Naismith grabbed another for Strachan’s men and Steven Fletcher scored the first hat-trick for Scotland since Colin Stein in 1969. The result got us to where we are now joint second place in Group D, level on points with Germany and one behind Poland.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND V SCOTLAND such an important game coming up on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Judging by Scotland’s previous two away games in the group to Germany and Poland, the Scots should be able to get a decent result. However, the Irish have admitted that this is a must-win game for them to keep their hopes alive. Scotland warmed up with a 1-0 win over Qatar, while Ireland held England to a goalless draw. With both sides needing a win to keep up the pace with Germany and Poland, expect fireworks and, hopefully, Scotland can get a point, if not all three.
GROUP PREDICTIONS: Ireland 1 1 Scotland, Poland 3 1 Georgia, Gibraltar 0 Germany 5.

GEORGIA V SCOTLAND another away tie for Strachan to overcome. However, if we put in a performance like we did against Germany and Poland in our opening two away games, then the Scots can feel confident to get points here. We will be hoping for all three and, in truth, Scotland will probably need maximum points from this game going into our next two games. Strachan has the side playing well, so we would not be surprised if we came away with three points.

GROUP PREDICTIONS: Georgia 1 2 Scotland, Germany 2 2 Poland, Gibraltar 1 Ireland 3.

SCOTLAND V GERMANY a huge tie for the Scots. Germany began to show signs that they were hitting form in their latest Group D ties after beginning the group slowly. A home tie is a home tie, though, so Scotland will still have some expectations, especially considering how well we did in our opening match in Dortmund. However, we need a result here, but a draw would probably be enough to satisfy the fans, but it will be no easy task.

GROUP PREDICTIONS: Scotland 2 Germany 2, Poland 7 0 Gibraltar, Ireland 2 0 Georgia.

SCOTLAND V POLAND perhaps the decider in the group. If our predictions are right, Scotland will sit on 15 points with Germany and Poland not to far away, with our predictions suggesting they may be on 15 and 18points respectively. A win for Strachan’s men will put us level on points with the Poles and with an away tie against Gibraltar to come, we could be expected to be favourites to qualify. Hopefully, that will be the case and our predictions are not too hopeful.

GROUP PREDICTIONS: Scotland 1 0 Poland, Ireland 1 1 Germany, Georgia 3 0 Gibraltar.

GIBRALTAR V SCOTLAND the final match of our France 2016 qualifying campaign. Scotland could go into this match joint-top of the group with Poland and Germany breathing down our necks. We are expecting a comfortable win for Scotland, as well as wins for both Poland and Germany. The results would mean that Scotland would finish ahead of Germany, knocking the world champions out at the first hurdle. It may be more in hope than expectation, but we can do this. C’mon Scotland!

GROUP PREDICTIONS: Gibraltar 0 3 Scotland, Germany 3 0 Georgia, Poland 2 1 Ireland.


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