Scotland coach Anna Signeul will know if her side has a realistic chance of reaching the knockout stages of Euro 2017 when the group draw is made at Rotterdam’s Luxor Theatre this afternoon.
The Scots are seeded in Pot 3 for the 16-nation tournament which get underway in Utrecht on 16 July. The final is in Enschede on 6 August.
With two teams from each of the four groups to contest the quarter-finals, avoiding the top teams in Pots 1 and 2 is essential if Signeul’s side are to become the first Scotland side – female or male – to progress beyond the group stage.
“In Pot 1 we definitely don’t want Germany or France,” said Signeul. Those nations are the second and third best in women’s football according to the Fifa women’s world rankings.
The notion that hosts Netherlands might be the soft touch among the top seeds was blown apart by their 7-0 friendly win over Scotland last month – albeit that Signeul’s side had a number of key players, including Kim Little, missing.
“Holland were very, very good when we played them,” Signeul added.
The hosts have several excellent young players bursting through and playing exciting attacking football under head coach Arjan van der Laan.
England, who finished third in last summer’s World Cup in Canada, are the final Pot 1 seeds. On balance they have probably become Scotland’s preferred team and Signeul said: “England is a special game, because there is so much emotion involved.”
In Pot 2 the sides to avoid are Sweden and Norway. Signeul knows all about her fellow-countrywomen and said: “Sweden lost one game to Denmark in the qualifiers when it seemed it didn’t mean anything.
“But actually it meant that England passed them in the qualifying ranking. The Swedes would have been in Pot 1 had they not lost that match.”
The other second seeded teams are Spain and Switzerland. Scotland drew 1-1 with Spain in a friendly in March, while Signeul has been impressed by recent Swiss performances.
Iceland, who pipped Scotland on goal difference in the qualifying group, are among the third seeds with Italy and Denmark.
All of the fourth-seeded teams have lower Fifa rankings than Scotland.
Portugal, who won the 16th and final place with a play-off victory over Romania, are, at 40, much lower ranked than any other country in the finals.