Scotland. The past two Euro qualifying campaigns have ended in play-off agony. Especially in 2013, when Verónica Boquete’s last gasp winner knocked them out on away goals.
But now, they are just three games away from securing their place in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Championship – which would be their first ever major international tournament.
They are guaranteed at least a play-off spot, and sit top of Group 1 with a 100% record, but they still have to play Iceland both home and away – and they sit three points behind Scotland, also with a 100% record. The games against Iceland will decide who wins Group 1.
Iceland is ranked one place higher that Scotland, and have experience of playing in major international tournaments, having qualified for both the 2009 and 2013 editions of the UEFA Women’s Euros. In the 2009 tournament, they lost all three of their group games. But in 2013, they reached the Quarter-Finals, having beaten the Netherlands, drawn with Norway and lost to Germany. Their run, however, came to an end in the Quarters as they lost 4-0 to Sweden.
They possess plenty of experience in their squad, with Hólmfríður Magnúsdóttir and Margarét Lára Viðarsdóttir both having over 100 caps each, with Viðarsdóttir scoring 75 goals. Their players have experience in playing in the WSL, Frauen-Bundesliga and the NSWL to name a few and will provide Scotland with a huge challenge.
Scotland’s chances of beating Iceland will be improved by the presence of striker Jane Ross, who has been on fire for her club Manchester City as well as country – and her eight goals in the qualification campaign make her the top scorer.
Of course, Kim Little will be vital in Scotland’s attacking play who has recently been named as BBC World Service’s Women’s Footballer of the Year. Scotland’s attacking play often starts through her and is often cited as the best player in the world.
Will Cuthbert Play?
The main talking point is the call up of 17-year old Erin Cuthbert. Cuthbert, who joined Glasgow City from Rangers in January 2015, has impressed numerous pundits over the past twelve months as she has become an integral part of the City squad and won the club’s Young Player of the Year last season.
In 2015, she often played in a deeper role, but since the departure of Denise O’Sullivan to Houston Dash, Cuthbert has been deployed in a more attacking role – playing in any of the three positions behind the main striker.
It is unlikely that Anna Signeul will give Cuthbert a start against Iceland, and in the past, she has called up young players without playing them. But she is a highly exciting talent, who you can see being an integral part of the Scotland squad in the future.
Cuthbert is more likely to make her debut against Belarus on the 7th June.