Will Scotland end up qualifying for Euro 2020?
By Joe Harker
It's not the best of times to be a Scotland fan after the 4-0 thrashing by Belgium all but confirmed the nation's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020 from their group were over.
Manager Steve Clarke appears to have waved the white flag over hopes of qualifying through normal means, accepting the aim is now to finish third and get some good results.
The best they can do from their remaining qualifying fixtures is reach 18 points, so Belgium only needs to take one point and Russia four from the remaining four fixtures to make it mathematically impossible for Scotland to get out of their group.
Sky Sports reports Scotland are a "robot" side who have yet to hit rock bottom after another defeat.
The new manager has lost three of his first four games in charge and things could get even worse according to former Scotland international Kris Boyd.
He fears the worst is yet to come and believes Scotland isn't producing enough players willing to get stuck into the rough and tumble of a football match.
Boyd particularly criticised the team's defenders, saying they "don't want to defend". He also lamented the lack of a consistent goalscorer to fire the team through closer games.
Nobody is expecting Scotland to beat Belgium, who are the top ranked side in the world, but a 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan and poor performances in victories against the likes of Cyprus and San Marino is what is really disgruntling fans.
The Tartan Army is right to wonder which direction Scotland are headed in, since it currently looks like they're not going anywhere good.
The Counter Claim:
On the other hand, Scotland topped their group during the inaugural Nations League tournament and have booked themselves a play-off place.
This will be important later, as it gives them a second chance to qualify for Euro 2020 and make it back to a major international tournament after more than two decades.
Clarke wants Scotland to build up some momentum in their final games and use it to finish third in their group, using it to carry them through the play-offs and straight into a Euro 2020 place.
It's within their power to make it through and the teams they could face are ones that were also in Nations League tier C and thus should be close in ability to Scotland.
At long last failing to qualify for a tournament will not be the end of their chances of appearing in it. The work they did in the Nations League could pay off after all.
Currently ranked 48th in the world, the last major tournament Scotland qualified for was the 1998 World Cup, where they were ejected at the group stage after losing two games and drawing once.
Since then it has been 10 failed attempts from the Scots to qualify for a major tournament, finishing third in their group on six occasions, fourth twice and making the play-offs twice too.
Of the 24 teams that will appear in Euro 2020, 20 will be made up of those who finished either first or second in their qualifying group. The other four spots will be taken by Nations League play-off winners.
Since Scotland were in the C tier of the Nations League they will face other teams from the same tier in the play-offs. As things stand they would play either Bulgaria or Israel in a play-off semi final before taking on either Norway or Serbia.
Scotland can do it. The question is, will they?