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Analysis

Euro 2024: How Scotland can reach the knockouts with just two points

Scotland lost to Germany in their opening game; Steve Clarke's side then drew against Switzerland to register their first point of Euro 2024; Scotland play Hungary on Sunday evening; kick-off 8pm; follow across Sky Sports digital platforms

Scotland's Scott McTominay (right) celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Switzerland
Image: Scotland have one point in their Euro 2024 group, and face Hungary on Sunday

As Scotland prepare to play Hungary in their final Group A game, Sky Sports looks at all the permutations that could see them reach the knockouts with just two points.

Scotland were beaten by Germany in their opening match, but an improved performance saw them draw with Switzerland and give themselves a chance of reaching the round of 16.

Here's how Steve Clarke's side can reach the knockout rounds of Euro 2024...

If Scotland lose to Hungary

The easy one. If Scotland lose, they are out of Euro 2024 as they will finish bottom of Group A, and therefore unable to reach the last 16.

If Scotland beat Hungary

Scotland would qualify directly for the Euro 2024 knockout stages in second place if they beat Hungary and Switzerland lose to Germany, plus the Scots overturn a six or seven-goal deficit in goal difference.

For example, if Scotland win 3-0 and Germany also win 3-0, then Scotland will finish in second place on goals scored. The same would occur if Scotland win 4-0 and Germany win 2-0 or Scotland win 5-0 and Germany win 1-0.

However, if Scotland win 1-0 and Switzerland lose 5-0, then Switzerland would finish second on goals scored. Scotland winning 2-0 and the Swiss losing 4-0 would mean it would go down to the best disciplinary record, which the Scots trail in due to Ryan Porteous' red card.

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Any seven-goal overturn of the goal difference deficit would see Scotland finish second.

If Switzerland manage to finish second and Scotland have to settle for third, this is where it gets complicated.

Scotland would face a nervous wait to find out whether four points would be enough to reach the knockout rounds. History would be on their side, however. No third-placed team with four points has ever failed to reach the last 16 of the Euros since this format was introduced.

A lot will depend on how much they can beat Hungary by. A big win would boost their chances massively.

If Scotland win and their goal difference remains low, they would be eliminated if four out of the five following outcomes occur in the two days after the Hungary game:

Monday June 24: Albania beat Spain

Tuesday June 25: Austria avoid defeat to the Netherlands

Tuesday June 25: Slovenia beat England and Denmark vs Serbia does not end in a draw

Wednesday June 26: Either Ukraine vs Belgium and Slovakia vs Romania ends in a draw

Wednesday June 26: Georgia beat Portugal

If Scotland draw with Hungary

Scotland drawing to Hungary would be interesting - as two points could be enough for Steve Clarke's side to qualify as a third-placed team.

If the Scots draw to Hungary, they would need two out of the three outcomes to happen to qualify:

  • Albania lose to Spain AND Croatia lose against Italy in Group B
  • England to beat Slovenia by four goals (providing Scotland score the same amount of goals vs Hungary as Slovenia do vs England) AND Denmark beat Serbia
  • Czech Republic lose against Turkey AND Georgia lose against Portugal in Group D

If one Group B team and one Group D team pick up at least a point in the final group games, then Scotland's draw would not be enough due to to their poor goal difference of -4.

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