Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scotland: Group I As It Stands

Euro 2012 Group I as it stands:

Spain 15 (+10) Played 5
Czech Republic 9 (+1) Played 5
Scotland 4 (-1) Played 4
Lithuania 4 (-3) Played 4
Liechtenstein 4 (-10) Played 4

Scotland's Journey

While Scotland were huffing and puffing in their attempts to stay close to Brazil, other teams in Group I were getting on with the business of qualifying for Euro 2012.

The three games played in this international break went as expected.

Spain might not have been as emphatic as they could have been but they beat Czech Republic 2-1 at home on Friday night.

The Czechs recovered from that loss to beat Liechtenstein 2-0 this evening, while Spain needed a couple of late goals to beat Lithuania 3-1.

All of which means that Spain are top of a group they have dominated with 15 points from five games. Out of sight and qualified.

Czech Republic lie second with nine points from five games. That leaves them five points clear of Scotland.

Our four points and -1 goal difference means we're edging out Lithuania, who have also played four games, by two goals.

By the time we meet the Czechs at Hampden on 3rd September, Lithuania will have played twice against Liechtenstein. You have to expect them to win those games.

That will mean we're lying in fourth the next time we're in action.

How will it all pan out?

Let's presume that Spain win their remaining games and Liechtenstein lose theirs.

If Scotland can beat Czech Republic and then Lithuania in the Hampden double header at the start of September that would - theoretically - put us level with the Lithuanians and a point ahead of the Czechs.

If we then beat Liechtenstein then we'll knock the Czechs out of contention before they play in Lithuania on 11th October at the same time as Scotland visit Spain.

Obviously all that depends on Liechtenstein not upsetting anyone and the Czechs not springing a surprise on Spain when they play them at home.

It could be tight. And even taking nine points from the three might leave us needing something from the final game against Spain.

To get that far we need to beat both Czech Republic and Lithuania. I can't see four points from those two games being enough.

It's not going to be easy. But it might be all the sweeter for it.