Scotland have agreed their fixture for the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Craig Levein’s side will begin with a trip to face Lithuania followed by a match against Liechtenstein at Hampden Park. The campaign will end with the toughest match of the group, away against European champions Spain.
The schedule was agreed at a meeting of representatives from the Group I nations in Madrid. Levein travelled along with SFA president George Peat and chief executive Gordon Smith to try and land a fixture list that would give Scotland the best chance of qualifying for the finals in Poland and Ukraine.
The order of games agreed is: Lithuania (away), Liechtenstein (home), Czech Republic (away), Spain (home), Czech Republic (home), Lithuania (home), Liechtenstein (away) and Spain (away). Levein's side will face four double-headers during the campaign and face a gap of almost 11 moths without a game between the Spain and Czech Republic matches at Hampden.
Scotland face a tough,but not insurmountable, task to qualify for the finals. Spain, as current champions, will be favourites to take first spot and automatic qualification but Levein will be hopeful of beating Czech Republic to second spot and a place in the playoffs, or perhaps direct qualification as the best second placed team in Europe.
Those hopes now look likely to rest on a trio of matches midway in the qualifying campaign. The match away in Prague and the following home matches against Spain and Czech Republic will be crucial in determining where Scotland end up in the Group I table.
The fixtures give the national team a chance of going into that crunch spell with maximum points though, as a win away in Lithuania and at home to Liechtenstein would be expected if Scotland are to have any hopes of qualifying. The return matches against those two countries could even see Scotland knowing their fate before travelling to Spain for the mouth-watering final match.
The agreed schedule certainly appears better than the games played in the World Cup 2010 campaign, where many critics felt Scotland's chances were limited by playing in Macedonia in summer and Norway before the Scottish season had begun.
Scotland fixtures in full:
Friday September 3, 2010 - Lithuania (away)
Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - Liechtenstein (home)
Friday, October 8, 2010 - Czech Republic (away)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - Spain (home)
Saturday, September 3, 2011 - Czech Republic (home)
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - Lithuania (home)
Saturday, october 8, 2011 - Liechtenstein (away)
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - Spain (away)