The Scottish national soccer team has performed poorly overall in recent years.
But, although they lost three consecutive matches against Peru, Mexico and Belgium until recently, they hadn’t been beaten in a competitive game since November 2016.
The last time they qualified for one of the two major tournaments they are entitled to play in was in 1998 when they got through to the finals of the FIFA World Cup.
The last time they qualified for the other major competition (the UEFA European Championship) was in 1996.
The next big tournament is Euro 2020 – the more popular, abbreviated name for the UEFA European Championship finals, which will take place in 2020.
To mark the 60th “birthday” of the competition, games in the finals will be played in 12 cities in 12 European countries.
Given Scotland’s poor, recent performances, the team may have to rely on another competition to guarantee a place in the Euro 2020 finals.
That other competition is the UEFA Nations’ League.
They had a good start to the tournament when they beat Albania 2-0 at Hampden Park. However, they lost their next game 2-0 to Israel in Haifa.
It was the first time that Israel has beaten Scotland. They lost all three of their previous matches against the Scots.
The fact that it was an away fixture counted against Scotland, as did the sending off of Hearts’ defender John Souttar for a second yellow card offence.
The current situation in Group One, League C, is that Israel are at the top with six points, Scotland are second with three points, over Albania in third, also with three points but with an inferior goal difference.
Although the Israelis have a three-point lead, the Scots have a game in hand and are confident they can win the group.
Their next game is against Albania in Shkoder on the 17th November. Ales McLeish’s men desperately need to win the return fixture to remain in contention for promotion.
Their last game sees them play Israel at Hampden Park on the 20th of November, in what is likely to be a decisive fixture.
James McFadden, (assistant coach to the Scottish national side) recently told the BBC that Scotland doesn’t want to have to rely on the UEFA Nation’s League to qualify for Euro 2020.
They will be targeting all their concentration on going through directly via their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign which kicks-off in 2019.
McFadden acknowledges that Scotland’s next two games are huge. He readily admits though that the Scots have a squad of young players and that young players do make mistakes. But that is par for the course.
The managers want the youngsters to learn, and by doing so, become better players. But they also realise that every mistake can be punished at this level of the game, and that is indeed what appears to have been happening.
It’s something that needs to be put right and quickly. The draw for Euro 2020 is due to take place in Dublin on the 2nd of December.
Scotland will learn who they will be up against in the qualifying rounds and if they are to realise their ambitions of making it through to the finals, they need to get their act together.
Their next two EUFO Nations’ League fixtures give them the opportunity to do so.