Why it's so important Scotland defeat Israel on Wednesday in final Nations League game

Sunday’s results mean Scotland will have to defeat Israel in their final Nations League match of the current campaign to ensure they finish top of the group and earn promotion to League A.

Scotland were defeated by Slovakia in Trnava on Sunday afternoon. Picture: PA/Martin Baumann/TASR
Scotland were defeated by Slovakia in Trnava on Sunday afternoon. Picture: PA/Martin Baumann/TASR

Anything other than a Czech victory over Slovakia in the other League B Group 2 game will also guarantee top spot, though that’s unlikely to happen for two reasons. The Czechs have already defeated Wednesday’s opponents away from home and relegation for Slovakia, who currently sit last, might be better for their Euro 2024 chances as group winners from each of the leagues were guaranteed play-off entry for Euro 2020.

If Scotland earn promotion then it will greatly improve their chances of qualifying for both the 2022 World Cup and the 2024 Euros.

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For the World Cup in Qatar it isn’t quite as simple as the Euros were. Only two play-off places will be granted to Nations League entries and, as things stand, Scotland would be seventh in line. However, if six of the eight group winners in League A and League B finish in the top two in their groups for World Cup qualification, which is more than possible, then Scotland would be granted the same back-door entry they received for the Euros if they fail to make it out of their World Cup qualification group, which would be expected as the third-ranked seed.

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On the subject of seeding, making it into League A would automatically guarantee Scotland at least a second-place seeding for their Euro 2024 qualification campaign.

It would also all but guarantee Scotland a play-off place, if required, for the next Euros if the Nations League prizes are organised in the same manner as last time. Iceland, for instance, made it to the Euro 2020 play-offs despite losing every single one of their League A games in the Nations League. That’s because every other League A side automatically qualified for the tournament as one of the top two teams in their group during qualifying.

It would also see Scotland pit themselves against some of the strongest footballing nations in the world, bringing full houses to Hampden once things are back to normal and the chance to test ourselves against the best of the best.

Thank you to The Tartan Scarf for providing much of the above information.

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