Euro 2020 Qualifying: Lowdown on who Scotland will face in Group I
Who’s in Group I with Scotland?
Scotland haven’t been to the European Championships since 1996. Their Euro 2020 qualifying group, coupled with automatic qualification for two teams, represents their best chance of making it to a major tournament in a number of years.
Alex McLeish’s men are 9/1 to win a group which contains Belgium, Russia, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino. But what do we know about each of those nations?
We’ve boiled them all down into a handy Euro 2020 Group I qualifying guide.
Manager: Roberto Martinez
FIFA Rank: 1
Key Players: Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku
To Win the Group: 1/5
Scotland Record v Belgium: W4 – D3 – L11
Assessment: Belgium are favourites to win the group for a reason. They play an exciting brand of attacking football and boast a litany of established stars in defence, midfield and forward positions.
Critics would suggest their defensive capabilities are open to question. But it’s unlikely any of the teams in Group I have the attacking prowess to hurt them. They should win the group with ease.
Manager: Stanislav Cherchesov
FIFA Rank: 50
Key Players: Denis Cheryshev, Aleksandr Golovin, Fyodor Smolov.
To Win the Group: 10/3
Scotland Record v Russia: W0 – D2 – L0
Assessment: Russia are Scotland’s main adversaries for second place in Group I. In all likelihood qualification will boil down to the head-to-head meetings in September and October this year.
They have a midfield capable of doing serious damage. While a stubborn rearguard will mean Scotland must be clinical in front of goal. Cherchesov demands physical aggression from his team too, so McLeish and co. will have to be up for the fight.
Manager: Ran Ben Shimon
FIFA Rank: 87
Key Players: Grigos Kastanos, Pieros Sotiriou, Konstantinos Laifis
To Win the Group: 80/1
Scotland Record v Cyprus: W5 – D0 – L0
Assessment: You can cast Cyprus in the role of potential spoilers. They probably don’t have the necessary quality to make it through, but they are capable of a surprise result or two along the way.
They’ve beaten Slovenia and Bosnia at home in the last 18 months. And with an organised defensive unit, it’s only their lacklustre attack – eight goals in 13 matches – which stops them from being more of a threat.
Manager: Michal Bilek
FIFA Rank: 117
Key Players: Yuri Logvinenko, Yerkebulan Seidakhmet, Baktiyar Zaynutdinov.
To Win the Group: 100/1
Scotland Record v Kazakhstan: N/A
Assessment: Kazakhstan aren’t too dissimilar to Cyprus. They’re well-organised, tough to beat and have taken points at home to Poland and Romania and away in Iceland in recent times.
Scotland have performed much better on the road in recent years and will fancy their chances of taking a full haul of points from Astana. If they can do that, then the home tie will hold no fear.
Manager: Franco Varrella
FIFA Rank: 211
Key Players: Matteo Vitaioli, Davide Simoncini, Alex Gasperoni
To Win the Group: 500/1
Scotland Record v San Marino: W4 – D0 – L0
Assessment: San Marino are officially the worst team at international level. Scotland have had a few hiccups against smaller nations in their time, but this shouldn’t be one to add to the list.
Expect Alex McLeish to go all-out-attack against the minnows in a bid to improve goal difference which could be crucial if it comes down to a straight fight between themselves and Russia.
Click here for the latest Euro 2020 qualifying odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing