After being postponed back in March due to the war in Ukraine, Scotland will face the aforementioned Ukraine in the first of two games that will decide the final team from Europe to reach the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar this winter.

The winner of this one-legged tie will then move on to face Wales in Cardiff on Sunday June 5th in a one-off tie with the winner of that game going on to the finals next November.

Given the situation in Ukraine, the national team has been trying to maintain fitness by playing a series of fundraising friendly games across Europe, while its players who play in other countries across Europe complete their domestic seasons before joining up with the national squad.

Let’s now briefly recap how the World Cup Qualification looks now – with just a couple of spots in the finals still to be decided over the next couple of weeks.

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FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers

  • Hosts – Qatar
  • AFC (4 Qualifiers + 1 Playoff spot) – Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan
  • CAF (5 Qualifiers) – Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia
  • CONCACAF (3 Qualifiers + 1 Playoff Spot) – Canada, Mexico, USA, Costa Rica
  • CONMEBOL (4 Qualifiers + 1 Playoff Spot) – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru
  • OFC – (0 qualifiers + 1 Playoff Spot) – New Zealand
  • UEFA (13 Qualifiers) – Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal (+ 1 from playoff)

Playoff Games

  • 1st June – UEFA Playoff Semi – Scotland v Ukraine (winner faces Wales on 5th June)
  • 5th June – UEFA Playoff Final – Wales v Scotland or Ukraine
  • 7th June – AFC Playoff– UAE v Australia (winner faces Peru on 13th June)
  • 13th June – Inter Confederation Playoff 1-   UAE or Australia v Peru
  • 14th June – Inter Confederation Playoff 2 – Costa Rica v New Zealand

29 teams have been confirmed for the World Cup Finals, with the remaining three teams being decided by the playoff games above.

Sports

World Cup Finals 2022 Group Stage Draw

The draw for the group stage of the World Cup Finals was made a couple of months back and produced the following groups:

  • Group A – Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
  • Group B – England, Iran, USA, Winner of UEFA Playoff Final
  • Group C – Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
  • Group D – France, Denmark, Tunisia, Winner of IC Playoff 1
  • Group E – Spain, Germany, Japan, Winner of IC Playoff 2
  • Group F – Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
  • Group G – Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
  • Group H – Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

Current World Cup Betting

Brazil are currently the 9/2 favourites to win the World Cup foillowing the Group Stage draw, with England and France both 11/2 second favouries. Spain are 8/1, Argentina 9/1 and Germany 11/1.

There are a trio if teams, Belgium, Portugal and Netherlands at 12/1, followed by Denmark at 28/1.

After this the odds fall quite markedlyt with Croatia and Uruguay both 50/1, Switzerland and Senegal at 80/1 and the USA are 100/1.

Rank outsiders are New Zealand (who have not even qualified yet) at 2000/1.

All odds shown were correct at the time of writing with bet365 Sport but may have changed in the meantime.

World Cup Playoff Preview

Scotland v Ukraine

We now turn our attention to Wednesday’s massive game for both teams in Edinburgh as Scotland will face not just the Ukraine, but a team that will have the majority of neutral fans backing to win due to the horrific invasion their home nation is enduring at the hands of Russia.

With Russia thrown out of the competition, Ukraine will enjoy plenty of popular support against a Scotland team that have started to develop into a very good team under manager Steve Clarke.

Team News – Scotland

The Scots have been dealt a blow in the build-up to the game with the news that Rangers’ midfielder Ryan Jack will miss the game with the Ukraine, and the game with Wales if Scotland progress, due to a calf issue.

Uncapped Luton Town midfielder Allan Campbell has been drafted in to replace him in the squad.

The Scots are already without Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney, while Everton full back Nathan Patterson could be fit, despite being out with an ankle injury since March.

However, Andy Robertson will join up with the squad after his Champions League Final disappointment with Liverpool, while Scott McKenna will also join up following Nottingham Forest’s successful Playoff Final victory over Huddersfield Town.

It is a busy period of fixtures for the Scots with a potential five (and guaranteed four) games to be played between the 1st June and 14th June).

Their World Cup Playoff against the Ukraine starts the run off on Wednesday and if Scotland progress they’ll face Wales in Cardiff on the 5th June.

Regardless of the outcome of the Ukraine game, the Scots will also play three Nations League games in the space of 6 days against Armenia at Hampden Park on the 8th June, away to the Republic of Ireland on the 11th June and then away to Armenia on the 14th June.

Steve Clarke has named a larger than usual squad for the five potential fixtures this month:

Scotland Squad

  • Goalkeepers – Zander Clarke (St Johnstone), Craig Gordon (Hearts), Liam Kelly (Motherwell), David Marshall (QPR)
  • Defenders – Liam Cooper (Leeds), Grant Hanley (Norwich), Jack Hendry (Club Brugge), Aaron Hickey (Bologna), Scott McKenna (Nottm Forest), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Nathan Patterson (Everton), Anthony Ralston (Celtic), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Hearts), Greg Taylor (Celtic)
  • Midfielders – Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen), Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), Ryan Jack (Rangers) – Withdrawn, replaced by Allan Campbell (Luton Town), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Scott McTominay (Man Utd), David Turnbull (Celtic)
  • Forwards – Che Adams (Southampton), Jacob Brown (Stoke), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Lyndon Dykes (QPR), Ross Stewart (Sunderland)

Ukraine Team News

You can forgive the Ukraine team’s attention being focused on other things other than this game but coach Oleksandr Petrakov has been building some form and fitness for his players in a series of friendly games against club sides including Empoli, Rijeka and Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Andriy Pyatov, the 37-year-old veteran goalkeeper, will captain the team which will also likely feature Everton’s Vitaly Mykolenko, West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko, Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi and Benfica striker Roman Yaremchuk.

Current Betting & Tips

Bet365 Sport have Scotland as the 5/4 favourites to win the game over 90 minutes, with Ukraine 12/5 and it is 11/5 on the game being a draw and the teams then facing extra time and potentially penalties.

My tip here is for a narrow 1-0 win for the Scots which is a 5/1 chance on the correct score market.