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Nations League 2024-25: Scotland to face Croatia, Portugal and Poland

Manager Steve Clarke is relishing a "difficult" Nations League challenge after Scotland were drawn with Croatia, Portugal and Poland in Group A1.

Clarke's side are in the top tier of for the first time in the 2024-25 edition, having won their League B group to gain promotion in 2022.

Croatia, beaten by Spain in the final last June, and Portugal are both in the top 10 of Fifa's world rankings.

"It's a tough one, but we knew that anyway," Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It's the first time in the top group. We expected difficult opponents - that's what we got, but that's what we wanted.

"I'm always a great believer that if you want to improve you have to play against the best teams.

"We've got good opponents and I look forward to the matches."

Croatia are captained by 37-year-old Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, while strikers Cristiano Ronaldo, 39, and 35-year-old Robert Lewandoswki are the record scorers for Portugal and Poland respectively.

Clarke hopes the veteran stars continue to feature for their countries going into the Nations League campaign.

"There's some great names in there and hopefully they continue to play because I always like to pit ourselves, I like my players to play against the best players," he added. "You want to play against the best.

"When I was a player, a long time ago, you always wanted to play against the top opponent, you wanted to try and measure yourself and test yourself."

Scotland v Poland
Scotland last faced Poland in a friendly in September 2022

Format & previous form

The group phase will be played from September to November this year.

Under new rules for the competition, the teams in first and second go into home-and-away quarter-finals to settle the final four.

And the third-placed side will go into a play-off with a runner-up from the B set-up, while last place in the group will be relegated.

Scotland have only lost once to Croatia in six meetings - a 3-1 Hampden defeat at Euro 2020 in June 2021 that ended the hosts' last-16 hopes.

The Scots have not beaten Portugal since 1980, losing a Hampden friendly 3-1 in the most recent meeting in 2018.

The most recent meeting with Poland was a friendly at Hampden in March 2022, when Kieran Tierney's 68th-minute goal was cancelled out by an added-time Krzysztof Piatek penalty.

Tournament dates

Matchday 1: 5-7 September 2024

Matchday 2: 8-10 September 2024

Matchday 3: 10-12 October 2024

Matchday 4: 13-15 October 2024

Matchday 5: 14-16 November 2024

Matchday 6: 17-19 November 2024

Knockout round play-off draw: November 2024

Knockout round play-offs: 20-25 March 2025

League A quarter-finals: 20-25 March 2025

Final tournament: 4-8 June 2025