Euro 2016: Scotland halfway there on 10 points?

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Scotland beat Gibraltar 6-1 at Hampden on Sunday
Can Scotland qualifying for Euro 2016 automatically with 20 points?

Scotland have met expectations.

There ought to be satisfaction at the extent of Gordon Strachan's work as manager, since the national team is well-placed to qualify from Group D and reach the 2016 European Championships in France.

At the midway point of the campaign, Scotland still have control of their fate.

Three victories - over Georgia, Republic of Ireland and Sunday's demolition of Gibraltar - were anticipated, while defeat away to Germany would also have been considered likely.

The other result was a 2-2 draw away to Poland, and the only frustration from that scoreline was the fact Scotland led with 14 minutes remaining in Warsaw.

Strachan's side sit third on Group D, level on points with Germany but behind the world champions on the basis of their head-to-head record.

The Scots are currently the highest-ranked third place team, a position that provides automatic qualification, with the remaining eight third-placed sides facing a play-off.

The next assignment is a trip to Dublin in June, a game that the Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has already said that his side must win.

It is not quite that drastic an occasion for Scotland, but victories over the Republic then Poland in October at Hampden would leave Scotland in a commanding position.

A further win away to Georgia in September would effectively secure Scotland's passage to the finals, with the team finishing on 22 points.

That assumes a home defeat to Germany - and indeed the Germans rediscovering their poise and finishing as group leaders with 25 points - and a victory in the final game, away to Gibraltar.

Group D as it stands

Poland will host the Republic in their final match, but also face a trip to Germany as well as the visit to Hampden.

Assuming they lose both away games, they would need to defeat the Republic to finish on 20 points.

Even if Scotland only managed a draw away to Georgia, and finished on 20 points, defeating Poland at Hampden would ensure a better head-to-head record.

The details of the task are straightforward, but the two key fixtures are away to the Republic and at home to Poland. In the same way that Scotland's results have met expectations so far, that contest between three countries to finish second and third behind Germany was also widely anticipated.

The Germans have been slipshod, losing to Poland and conceding a late equaliser to the Republic, but they should still find their old certainty of purpose in the second half of the group.

Scotland have faced tight moments so far, in particular the closely-fought meeting with the Republic at Celtic Park, but the team held its nerve, with Shaun Maloney producing a wonderful winning goal.

That quality, a sense of conviction even when faced with fraught circumstances, will need to underpin the rest of Scotland's work in Group D.

Unexpected moments are still likely, but Scotland have built a solid base on which to try to reach the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1998.

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