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Scotland to reach Russia ... what's the Oz? WORLD CUP GORD CAN BE A WIZARD Lion Rampant can roar over line but it could be yellow brickin' it road.

Byline: MICHAEL GANNON m.gannon@dailyrecord.co.uk

IT wasn't so long ago the road to Russia was such a fantastical notion for Scotland it might as well have been over the rainbow and paved with yellow bricks.

There was more chance of Gordon Strachan bumping in to a jittery lion, a heartless tin man and a strawbrained scarecrow along the way to meeting the wizard than going all the way to the World Cup.

But it turns out there really is no place like home. Four points out of six at Hampden and the dream is back on and while we might not be in Kansas any more we are on the way to Kaunas.

Lithuania's the next stop on this journey which just might lead all the way to Moscow. There have been a few detours along the path but the funny thing is we can now see a straight route ahead.

It's clear what Scotland need to do - win all four of the remaining games. Sounds easy enough, right? Aye, well perhaps not but who knows maybe Gordon can grant our wish. First up it's absolutely crucial Scotland undo the damage of the home draw against Lithuania by winning in Kaunas.

It's the shoo-in of Malta after that and another three points will give us 14 points going in to the final two matches - Slovakia at Hampden then a final-day trip to Slovenia.

Win the lot and it will take a horrendous dose of bad fortune to prevent Scotland grabbing a play-off place.

We'll get to that one later.

Finishing second in the group is the first priority. A clean sweep in the remaining games will do the job but there is even a way we could do it with three wins and a draw.

This is where it gets a bit complicated. It will hinge on games elsewhere. None more so than Slovakia v Slovenia on the night we're in Lithuania. Those two drawing would do just nicely.

If England beat them both, and assuming Malta won't do anything silly, that would leave Slovakia one behind Scotland when they come to Hampden.

Beat them and their tea is oot and it would only require a point in Slovenia who, providing they get past Lithuania, would need to win even if they can get three points in Slovakia. We'd bite the hand off for that scenario, that's for sure.

Slovakia beating Slovenia in September and then losing to England would give them 15 points coming to Hampden - one more than us - and in pole Win the and it'll a dose of bad to deny Scotland play-off position with Malta to come in the last game.

They could take a point and it would finish us off, as even a win wouldn't be enough in Slovenia.

So Scotland could do it with 18 points from three wins and a draw but we must beat Slovakia. There's still no guarantees though. There's every chance 18 points and second spot could still not be enough.

Only the eight best runnersup in the nine groups get play-off places. Yeah, sounds ominous doesn't it? Right now Scotland's Group F is ranked six out of the nine but it's tight and could get tighter.

lot take horrendous Scotland are back on the yellow brick road to Russia but there could yet be plenty of twists and turns along the way.

fortune a place

Win the lot and it'll take a horrendous dose of bad fortune to deny Scotland a play-off place

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jun 12, 2017
Words:588
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