How close are Scotland to reaching the next World Cup?

Last month's win over Austria has raised hopes that Scotland could reach their first World Cup since 1998.

How close are Scotland to reaching the next World Cup? SNS Group

Last month’s win over Austria left the Tartan Army dreaming of an end to our decades-long wait to qualify for the World Cup.

Attention now turns to Saturday’s meeting at a sold-out Hampden with Israel, followed by a trip to the Faroe Islands on Tuesday.

So how close are Scotland to reaching Qatar 2022?

There are two routes into the tournament – by topping our qualifying group, or finishing second and winning two play-off matches next spring.

Can we win the group?

In theory, yes, but it seems almost impossible.

We’re seven points behind leaders Denmark with four games to play. Even if we won them all (including beating the Danes at Hampden) we’d still need Denmark to drop a bundle of points to Moldova and the Faroe Islands.

And given they haven’t even conceded a goal yet in Group F, let alone any points, let’s not rest our hopes on that happening.

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So, it’ll be the play-offs then?

If we’re going to qualify, through the play-offs is our best bet and the good news is that it’s in our own hands.

Winning our next three games – home to Israel and visits to the Faroe Islands and Moldova – would see us reach that stage with a group match to spare, rendering Denmark’s visit to Hampden in November as meaningless.

Drop points in any of those three ties, though, and there will still be plenty of work to be done.

One match we might need to keep a close eye on is Austria v Israel on November 12.

How do the play-offs work?

The runners-up from all ten European qualifying groups will join two of the best performers from the Nations League in a 12-team mini tournament in March.

The three teams remaining following two rounds of single-legged knockout ties will be going to the World Cup.

Scotland reached Euro 2020 through the play-offs after beating Serbia on penalties.

As things stand, Scotland would be seeded in the first stage as one of the six best second-placed teams in qualifying – earning us a home tie.

However, much could change during our next four matches.

When is the World Cup?

While international tournaments are normally feature of our summer, the 2022 World Cup will have a very different feel.

It will start in November, with the final on December 18 – meaning the Premiership and other European domestic competitions will face a lengthy interruption.

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