Scotland U21s – What results do they need?

The Scotland under 21 side are in Austria for their final Euro 2013 qualifier, which takes place tonight.  They are guaranteed 2nd place in the group, but with only the 4 best runners-up qualifying for the play-offs, they need results to go their way in order to progress.

At the moment, despite being unbeaten, Scotland are ranked 8th out of the 10 runners-up.  This table (which I have shamelessly stolen from this Wikipedia article) shows the current points tallies of each of the 2nd placed sides, and as you can see there is very little between them.

If Scotland lose, then we will definitely be out.  If we draw, there is a small chance of making it through, but the possibility is so remote that I won’t bother discussing it here.  The only result which could realistically result in progression would be a victory.

A win will definitely take us above Turkey, who have already completed their campaign, but we would also need to leapfrog another 3 sides to squeeze into the play-offs.   Here are the results we need to make that happen.

Remember that all of these outcomes are only true IF SCOTLAND WIN.

Group 1

Bosnia & Herzegovina (B&H for the sake of my keyboard) are currently ahead of us on goals scored.  Their final match is at home to Germany, who have won all 9 of their qualifiers to date, including a 3-0 home win over B&H.  Scotland are hoping that B&H fail to beat Germany. We would also be OK if B&H win by a lesser margin than Scotland, or win by the same margin and score one fewer goal*.

Group 2

Sweden are currently 2nd in this group, but face 3rd placed Ukraine at home in their final game.  The winners of that match will win the group, with Slovenia taking 2nd place.  If the match is a draw, Slovenia would win the group, with Sweden in 2nd.

Regardless of the outcome, Scotland will definitely finish ahead of the runners-up in this group if we win.

Group 3

Armenia are guaranteed 2nd place in this group, and travel to 3rd placed Montenegro knowing that a win would definitely see them into the play-offs.  Armenia beat Montenegro 4-1 at home earlier in the group.  Scotland will be hoping that Armenia fail to beat Montenegro.

Group 4

This is the tightest of the 10 groups.  Serbia are currently top with 15 points, but Denmark (13) and Macedonia (12) could also still win the group, or finish 2nd.  Serbia host Macedonia in the final match, while Denmark are at home to Northern Ireland.  Macedonia held Serbia to a 1-1 draw at home, while Denmark won 3-0 in Northern Ireland.  Serbia just need a draw to win the group.

Scotland will finish ahead of the runner-up in this group if Macedonia beat Serbia OR Denmark fail to beat Northern Ireland.  We would also be OK if Denmark win by a lesser margin than Scotland or win by the same margin and score two fewer goals*.

Group 5

Switzerland are guaranteed 2nd place in this group, and will definitely make the play-offs if they beat Estonia at home.  Estonia are bottom of the group with just 1 point – but that point was picked up courtesy of a 0-0 draw with the Swiss.  Scotland will only be happy if Switzerland fail to beat Estonia.

Group 6

Portugal are currently in 2nd place, but are just 2 points behind leaders Russia.  Russia host Moldova in their final game, while Portugal travel to Poland.  Both teams will make it to the play-offs if they win.  Russia won 6-0 in Moldova, while Portugal drew 1-1 at home to the Poles.

Scotland can only finish ahead of this group’s runner-up if Portugal fail to beat Poland, or in the very unlikely scenario that  Russia lose to Moldova and there is a 4 goal swing in goal difference between us and Russia (a 5 goal swing if Russia still manage to score as many goals as us)*.

Group 7

Turkey have finished their campaign and will be 2nd in this group.  We will definitely finish above them if we win.

Group 8

England are currently 2 points ahead of 2nd placed Norway in this group, and host the Norwegians in Chesterfield in the group decider.  The match in Norway finished 2-1 to Stuart Pearce’s side. England have already sealed their play-off place, because even if they lose, they will definitely have one of the spots as best runner-up.  That could be bad news for Scotland, because we can only finish ahead of the group 8 runners-up if England beat Norway.

Group 9

Slovakia are currently in 2nd place, but could be overtaken by Romania tomorrow.  We can ignore this group’s runners-up, because we will definitely finish ahead of them if we win.

*In the case that teams are tied on points, goal difference and goals scored, the next tiebreaker is away goals scored.  Scotland have scored 9 away goals in this campaign (6 of them courtesy of Jordan Rhodes), and would definitely finish ahead of any of our rivals should it come down to this.

Summary

If Scotland win, we also need THREE of the following to happen:

  • Bosnia & Herzegovina fail to beat Germany OR win by a lesser margin than Scotland OR Bosnia & Herzegovina win by the same margin and score one fewer goal.
  • Armenia fail to beat Montenegro.
  • Macedonia beat Serbia OR Denmark fail to beat Northern Ireland OR Denmark win by a lesser margin than Scotland OR Denmark win by the same margin and score two fewer goals.
  • Switzerland fail to beat Estonia.
  • Portugal fail to beat Poland OR Russia lose to Moldova and there is a 4 goal swing in goal difference between us and Russia (a 5 goal swing if Russia still manage to score as many goals as us).
  • England beat Norway

With so many ifs, buts and maybes, and with the games kicking off at different times, it may be difficult to keep track of whether we’re in or out.  All Scotland can do is go out and win, and if possible win by a couple of goals.  With everything else outwith their control, it’ll be a case of “Que Sera Sera”.

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