Everything you need to know about Scotland's World Cup 2022 qualifying group opponents
Scotland found out their qualification group for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and it was one which shouldn’t provoke a lot of fear, while there was one familiar face.
Steve Clarke's men avoided all of the big guns in the draw and have been presented with a test which can be passed, whether that be winning the group and earning automatic qualification or finishing as runners-up and earning a play-off place.
As Steve Clarke said: "I think it could have been a tougher draw but it's also a dangerous draw.”
We take a look at each of Scotland’s five opponents in the group:
Star man: Christian Eriksen – A centurion who could become the country's third-most capped player during qualification. One of the most inventive midfielders in Europe now playing in Serie A with Inter Milan.
Manager: Kasper Hjulmand – The 48-year-old has been in place since July this year after taking over from Åge Hareide. Built a good reputation at Danish side Nordsjælland across two spells which sandwiched a stint with Mainz in Germany.
Fifa Ranking: 12th
Steve Clarke’s side shouldn’t fear the top seeds. They have been relatively inconsistent at qualifying for tournaments in recent times, albeit they have qualified for tournaments. Aside from Eriksen they, like Scotland, appear to have a goalscoring issue in that their top scoring forward has seven.
Martin Braithwaite – now with Barcelona – Pione Sisto and Yussuf Poulsen all have their qualities but none are what you would label reliable goalscorers.
Scotland were Denmark’s first opponents at a World Cup back in 1986, which was also the last competitive meeting between the two sides. Since then there have been six friendlies, the last two won by Scotland.
Star man: David Alaba – The Bayern Munich ace is one of the most versatile players in world football. More than 400 appearances for the German giants. Can play as a full-back, centre-back and in the middle of the pitch as he usually does for Austria.
Manager: Franco Foda – The German ended his playing career in Austria with Sturm Graz and that is where he emerged as a manager. Has been Austrian boss since the start of 2018.
Fifa Ranking: 23
The Austrian team should not be underestimated. While they disappointed at Euro 2016 and failed to reach the 2018 World Cup, their team is packed with players who play in the German Bundesliga and qualified automatically for Euro 2020.
What the team lacks is perhaps a bit of x-factor in the final third from time to time. Marko Arnautović, who is now in China, has the quality to provide that but his career has been somewhat inconsistent. Marcel Sabitzer suggested he could provide that something extra in the final third with RB Leipzig last season, netting 16 in 43 but he is a more of a wide forward.
The countries have not faced each other in competitive action since qualification for France ‘98 with Scotland winning the home tie 2-0 and drawing 0-0 in Austria.
Star man: Manor Solomon – Eran Zahavi may be the obvious choice but there could be a more central role for Solomon. The 21-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk star showed his quality in scoring against Scotland in the last meeting.
Manager: Willibald Ruttensteiner – The Austrian took charge of the national team earlier this year having been the national association’s sporting director.
Fifa Ranking: 87
Not these guys again.
Since October 2018, Scotland have faced Israel five times. Of those meetings, Scotland have won just once in 90 minutes with all games tight. The one which mattered however – the Euro 2020 play-off – Steve Clarke’s men succeeded on penalties after a dreary 0-0 draw.
There will be few secrets between the two sides.
Star man: Brandur Hendriksson – While some may see the goals of NSÍ Runavík forward Klæmint Olsen as the biggest threat, Hendriksson is a capable midfielder. The 24-year-old is one of the most promising talents in the country and is playing in Sweden.
Manager: Håkan Ericson – The Swede has a decent pedigree having led his country’s Under-21 side to success at the 2015 European Championships.
Fifa Ranking: 107
The Faroes aren't quite at the point of their highest Fifa ranking but the country continues to make progress at international level. The recent Nations League saw them earn promotion to Division C.
Scotland have had some difficult moments against Faroe Islands in the past, notable the 2-2 draw under Berti Vogts in 2002. As BBC’s headline stated: ‘Lucky Scots scrape draw in Faroes’. Results have been positive since that draw with a 6-0 win at Parkhead back in 2006.
Star man: Artur Ioniță – The 30-year-old midfielder has plenty of experience in Italy and the Swiss Super League. In 2016, he was linked with Juventus, Napoli and Swansea City.
Manager: Engin Firat – A nomadic career as a coach since the late 90s, the Turk has held roles in his homeland, Japan, USA, Germany and Iran. Has been Moldova coach since 2019.
Fifa Ranking: 177
Moldova finished bottom of their Nations League Division 3 group and their Euro 2020 qualifying group, picking up just one win, over Andorra. It is their only victory in two years. However, they did record a respectable 0-0 draw with Russia.
Scotland have faced the country before in World Cup qualification, drawing 1-1 away and winning 2-0 at Hampden Park in 2005.