Scotland has qualified for the Euro 2024 football tournament after Spain defeated Norway 1-0 in Oslo on Sunday night. The Scots needed the Spanish to avoid defeat at the Ullevaal Stadion to secure their berth at next summer’s European Championships.
Scotland’s impressive campaign
Scotland won their first five matches of what looked on paper a competitive group, with landmark victories at home to Spain and away to Norway increasing belief that they could qualify for the Euros for a second time in a row. Scotland reached the delayed Euro 2020 tournament but finished bottom of their pool after defeats by Czech Republic and Croatia, plus a draw against England.
The Scots have shown great improvement under manager Steve Clarke, who took over in May 2019. Clarke has built a solid and balanced team that can compete with the best in Europe. The likes of Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney, John McGinn and Che Adams have been instrumental in Scotland’s success.
Spain’s crucial goal
Spain, who are the reigning European champions, had already qualified for Euro 2024 before their match against Norway. However, they still had a lot to play for, as they wanted to finish top of the group and secure a possible top seed for the draw.
The only goal of the game came in the 49th minute, when Gavi, a 17-year-old midfielder who plays for Barcelona, scored his first international goal with a low shot from outside the box. Norway tried to equalize, but Spain’s defense held firm and denied them any clear chances.
Spain’s win meant that they moved top of Group A on 15 points, ahead of Scotland on goal difference. No other team can catch the top duo, meaning that Scotland can breathe easy ahead of their two final matches against Georgia and Norway.
The other teams in the group
Georgia won 4-0 at home to Cyprus earlier on Sunday, moving on to seven points in the group. The best position they can hope for is third place, which could give them a chance to qualify for Euro 2024 through the playoffs. Cyprus are doomed to finish bottom of the pool, having lost all of their matches so far.
Norway, who have nine points, are mathematically out of contention for the top two spots, but they still have a slim hope of making it to the playoffs. They will need to win their last two games against Scotland and Georgia, and hope that other results go their way.
What’s next for Scotland and Spain?
Scotland and Spain join hosts Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal and Turkey as confirmed teams for Euro 2024. They can now look forward to the draw on Saturday, December 2 at 5pm in Hamburg.
Scotland will now look to win their final two matches, away in Tblisi against Georgia on Thursday, November 16 and at home to Norway on Sunday, November 19 at Hampden. They will hope that Spain slip up in their last two matches against Georgia and Cyprus, given that the head-to-head is equal (a 2-0 win apiece) and Spain have a superior goal difference of +7 over the Scots.
The team that finishes first in the group will stand a chance of being a top seed for the draw, which could give them an easier path to the knockout stages. The team that finishes second will be placed in pot two or three, depending on their ranking among the other runners-up.
For now, Scotland can go into Tuesday’s friendly against France in Lille knowing that they have achieved their ultimate goal with two qualifiers to spare. They will also hope to end their long wait for a win over France, who have beaten them nine times in a row since 1958.
Spain will also play a friendly on Tuesday, against Italy in Milan. The match will be a rematch of the Euro 2020 final, which Spain lost on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Spain will look to avenge that defeat and prove that they are still among the favorites for Euro 2024.