Gordon Strachan claims Scotland could be facing the reigning European champions by the time they play England in a Group F World Cup qualifying fixture at the end of this year.
England’s comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Germany in Berlin on Saturday night raised the prospect they could be among the teams to beat this summer at the Euro 2016 finals in France.
If Roy Hodgson’s side do claim the title it would mean Scotland being pitted against reigning champions for a second successive qualifying campaign.
By the time the qualifiers for Euro 2016 kicked off ,Germany had become world champions in Brazil, underlining the size of task Scotland faced. Now they could face an even less appealing prospect – taking on England, freshly crowned European champions.
Strachan views this scenario as a challenge, however. “We’ll just have to improve then,” he said yesterday on the eve of Scotland’s home friendly against Denmark. He added: “We’ve got plenty of time.”
Strachan is seeking to make the minor improvements he feels are required to qualify for the World Cup in Russia in 2018. To do so they must finish either in first place in Group F or runners-up, which would almost certainly secure a play-off berth.
In the qualifiers for Euro 2008, Scotland faced not only the reigning world champions in Italy, but also France, losing finalists. Now fate might have dealt them a cruel hand once again as Scotland seek to qualify for a first major finals since 1998.
Scotland’s first meeting with England in a group that also contains Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta is at Wembley on 11 November.
Asked about England’s win over Germany, Strachan said: “I just thought that was exactly what I expected. They’ve got top players, really top players.
“They played with energy, loads of energy. And they were quite prepared to use their energy and fitness to go up against the Germans.
“They said to Germany: ‘Right, we’ll come and meet you up there. We’re not playing at your pace. If you’re going to play, you’ll need to play at a really high level.’ So I was really impressed with them. If they play like that, can they win the finals? Yes. But that’s fine, we’ve got plenty of time.
“I’m not that fussed about England, I’m not here to talk about them. With respect. If they win it that’s the way it goes. We’ll just have to improve.”
Scotland have faced England twice in friendlies under Strachan, losing 3-2 at Wembley in August 2013 in a first meeting between the countries since a Euro 2000 play-off in 1999. They met again at Celtic Park at the end of 2014, when Scotland fell to a more comprehensive 3-1 defeat.