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Celtic’s World Cup Stars

Logo by FIFA Public Domain

Scotland has once again failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals, but all is not lost for Scottish football fans. There could still be a significant Scottish presence to cheer on in Russia this summer. Some of the brightest and best players from Celtic and the rest of the SPL will be lining up for nations as diverse as Australia, Costa Rica, Denmark and Nigeria.

Scotland has now failed to qualify more times (nine) than they have succeeded (eight) since their first World Cup appearance in Switzerland in 1954. Even when they have made it to the finals, they have never progressed beyond the group stages and never won more than one game before heading home again.

So, is there any chance of a Scotland-based player going further than the national side has ever done in this tournament, and what are the odds of World Cup success and bringing a winner’s medal back north of the border?

If he can force his way into the team, France’s Moussa Dembele has probably the best chance of success, with France rated third favorites at 11/2 behind current World Cup holders Germany and Brazil. Dedryck Boyata is also a contender, with his native Belgium ranked in the top six at 10-1. Both have a better chance than England, who is behind Belgium, with odds of 14-1 to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy.

At least Celtic should get their players further than they did in Brazil when just two of their four representatives, Georgios Samaras of Greece and Efe Ambrose of Nigeria, made it through to the last 16, though neither made it to the quarterfinals. As for the other two, Emilio Izaguirre was part of the soundly thrashed Honduras side while Fraser Forster was unable to find a place in the equally unsuccessful England team, and was probably glad of it after their embarrassing bottom of the group departure!

Photo by Vagelis Georgariou, CC BY-SA 4.0

Of course, as the 2014 semifinal between Germany and home nation Brazil proved, nothing is ever certain in a World Cup, and anything can and often does happen on the day. So, Erik Sviatchenko’s Denmark (80-1) or Mikael Lustig’s Sweden (100-1) could yet surprise us with an unexpected scalp from one of the big boys. However, it is unlikely that Tom Rogic’s Australia or Cristian Gamboa’s Costa Rica, at 200-1 and 300-1, respectively, will surprise us and defy their odds.

While Celtic will probably have the largest contingent in Russia this summer, the SPL will have other players on show, including the Rangers’ Bruno Alves and Partick Thistle’s Ryan Edwards, who will be lining up alongside Rogic for Australia.

Photo by Tobias Klenze, CC BY-SA 4.0

Perhaps the most exciting is Aberdeen’s Kari Arnason, who will be joining the mighty minnows of Iceland at their first World Cup. They may be long shots at 200-1, but after knocking out England at Euro 2016, every team will be wary of them, and they have every chance of progressing beyond their group. Not bad for a country with around a quarter of the population of Glasgow!