Every football fan hopes that their country can make it to the World Cup, but today’s qualifying draw for the 2018 competition has supporters up and down the country eagerly anticipating the qualifying campaign just as much. That’s because England and Scotland have been drawn in the same group.
It will be the first time the two Home Nations have faced each other in competitive matches since the playoffs for Euro 2000 in November 1999. Back then, despite Scotland coming out victorious by a single goal at Wembley, a 2-0 defeat at Celtic Park saw England go through. The nations have only faced each other twice in friendlies since then, with England winning each time.
They will be joined in Group F by Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta. England will fancy their chances, having a 100% against every team in the group except Scotland. Gordon Strachan’s men will still be anticipating a successful campaign having avoided tougher challenges from other Pots. Recent strong performances versus Germany, Ireland and ironically England, have contributed to something of a feel-good factor around Scottish football.
Surprise top seeds Wales have also missed some of the bigger seeds in other Pots, but will go up against the Republic of Ireland. Both nations will feel they have a good chance of qualifying, though they will have to compete against Austria, Serbia, Moldova and Georgia.
The final Home Nation Northern Ireland face a much tougher task to get to Russia. They have been drawn in the same group as Czech Republic, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino, and the reigning world champions Germany.
The rest of the draw has produced some mouth-watering pairings, including France vs the Netherlands and Spain vs Italy. But it is revisiting the oldest international match in football that has everyone talking, with the first qualifying matches taking place in September next year.