Virtually everyone has already written off Scotland’s chances of making the next World Cup. But as I watched us crush Estonia last night I started to wonder what needs to happen for us to make it. I know this is crazy but after crunching the numbers I think we can actually do it. Here’s how:

Here is the table as it stands. All teams have played 4 games and have 6 games left to play.

Group A – As it stands, Feb 6 2013

P Pts
Belgium Belgium 4 10
Croatia Croatia 4 10
Serbia Serbia 4 4
Wales Wales 4 3
Scotland Scotland 4 2

Belgium are a good team, but I wouldn’t say they are a great team. They have good players but they are no Spain, or Italy, or even a Netherlands or France. They have a squad that mostly plays in the English Premier League but they have yet to prove themselves as a team. If anything I’d compare them to England. Good, but inconsistent and certainly beatable.

That being said, they are the quality team in this group and will probably finish top. Croatia are a good team too but it is more realistic that we can catch them than Belgium. Croatia have beaten Macedonia twice by a single goal. They are not as good as their points tally suggests.

Here is the thing – Croatia have 6 games to play. Two of them are against us. Two of them are against their rival Serbia. And the other two are away to Wales and home to Belgium. They will drop points.

Let’s first look at Scotland’s remaining fixtures:

Mar 22 Scotland  v Wales Hampden Park
Mar 26 Serbia  v Scotland Stadion Crvena Zvezda
Jun 7 Croatia  v Scotland Stadion Maksimir
Sep 6 Scotland  v Belgium Hampden Park
Sep 10 Macedonia  v Scotland City Stadium Skopje
Oct 15 Scotland  v Croatia Hampden Park

And here are Croatia’s games:

Mar 22 Croatia  v Serbia Stadion Maksimir .
Mar 26 Wales  v Croatia Millennium Stadium .
Jun 7 Croatia  v Scotland Stadion Maksimir
Sep 6 Serbia  v Croatia Stadion Crvena Zvezda
Oct 11 Croatia  v Belgium Stadion Maksimir
Oct 15 Scotland  v Croatia Hampden Park

Alright let’s look at us first. We are not going to win every game. Even the most optimistic fan can’t predict that (and I’m pretty close to being the most optimistic as you’ll see). But it’s not entirely unreasonable to suggest that Wee Gordy can inspire us to win our next two home games.

So that would be 3 points at home to Wales on March 22nd and 3 points at home to Belgium on September 6th. Between those two matches we have difficult games against Serbia and Croatia away from home. I’m going to be cautious and say that we can get a draw in both of those games. That would put us on 10 points by September 6th. Just like this:


Mar 22 Scotland  v Wales Scotland Win
Mar 26 Serbia  v Scotland Draw
Jun 7 Croatia  v Scotland Draw
Sep 6 Scotland  v Belgium Scotland Win

Looking at Croatia over this same period, they start off with a very unpredictable game at home to Serbia and then play away to Wales four days later. I’m going to give them 4 points there with a win over their rivals and draw in Cardiff after half their team is suspended from the battle in Zagreb. We’ll then take that draw with them on June 7th and then I’m going to say that Serbia will help us out by beating Croatia in the return grudge match on September 6th. That would put Croatia on 15 points by September 6th. Here is what might happen:

Mar 22 Croatia  v Serbia Croatia Win
Mar 26 Wales  v Croatia Draw
Jun 7 Croatia  v Scotland Draw
Sep 6 Serbia  v Croatia Serbia Win

Alright so it means we go on a bit of a run and Croatia take a bit of a stumble but none of this requires a massive leap of faith so far does it? It’s also possible that if Belgium pick up 6 points from their two games against Macedonia and then get a draw at home to Serbia then they’d be sitting pretty on 17 points before we gub them at Hampden. So this could reasonably be the table after the Belgium game:

 Sept 6 Table – Best Case Scenario

P Pts
Belgium Belgium 8 17
Croatia Croatia 8 15
Scotland Scotland 8 10

Ok so here is where it would get interesting. Our penultimate game is against Macedonia in Skopje on Sept 10. We played them there in September 2008 and lost 1-0 in 40+C heat. It won’t be any easier but we’ll have the small matter of a warm-up game against England at Wembley on August 14, and it can’t get much warmer than that. So we’ll be ready. And Macedonia are pretty shit. I’m putting this down for 3 points for Scotland. That would put us up to 13 points with one game to go.

Croatia play Belgium at home on October 11 with Belgium maybe needing a point to clinch top spot. I’m going to say that it is likely that this game ends in draw leaving Croatia on 16 points, 3 points ahead of Scotland, with one game to go. These are the results we’ll be wishing for:

Sep 10 Macedonia  v Scotland Scotland win
Oct 11 Croatia  v Belgium Draw

Which would be amazing. Because Croatia’s last game is 4 days later at Hampden on Tuesday October 15, and if we got that draw in Croatia on June 7, then we would go into our last game knowing that a win would be enough to finish on 16 points level with Croatia. And with a win our head to head record with the Croats would put us into the playoffs.

Oct 15 Scotland  v Croatia Scotland Win

Oct 15 Final Table – Scotland in Playoffs

P Pts
Belgium Belgium 10 21
Scotland Scotland 10 16
Croatia Croatia 10 16


So there you go. This also assumes that Serbia, Wales and/or Macedonia don’t also go on a winning streak but I’m trying to keep it simple. There is some flexibility here too. Croatia could quite easily draw both games with Serbia. Maybe Wales could steal a win off them in Cardiff next month like they did to us?

Alright now I’m getting into the realms of fantasy. I’m also well aware that I’m setting us up for even more heartbreak. But come on – that’s what being part of the Tartan Army is all about isn’t it?

Only one day, our hearts will not be broken.

See you in Rio!