Sunday, 9 August 2009

The Season Kinda Starts Here

It has been a very strange and somewhat staggered start to the season. Motherwell, Aberdeen and Falkirk have been eliminated from Europe already, while Celtic have got through a tough European qualifier. We have also seen the start of the League Cup with two SPL sides taking part in the first round last weekend, and on Wednesday we will see Scotland play in a key World Cup qualifier. All of this before the start of the domestic Season (the lower leagues kicked off yesterday).

We will look at the club game in more detail before Saturday. However Wednesday sees Scotland’s earliest international ever when they take on Norway in Oslo. Its not that Scotland have never played internationals in August before, they even played a key European Championships qualifier against Greece in August (in 1995, bizarrely the first game in Athens took place the weekend before Christmas 1994). However I can’t remember a Scotland International taking place before the start of the domestic season. For this reason, this game will be a difficult match.

P GD Pts
Netherlands 7 +14 21
Scotland 5 -2 7
Macedonia 6 -3 7
Iceland 7 -6 4
Norway 5 -3 3

Scotland do have a good record in Oslo. They are unbeaten there in World Cup qualifying, having won there in September 1988 and September 2005, both times by 2-1, their last defeat in Norway was a 4-3 loss in 1964. This does not disguise the fact that this is a crucial match for both teams, as you can see from the group table above. A loss for Norway will effectively eliminate them from the race for second. A win for Scotland will put points between themselves and Macedonia. Bearing in mind that their last two games are home ties next month against Macedonia and Netherlands. 9 points in the last 3 games is a must, even to get into the minefield of the playoffs.

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