Blogs & Opinion


Scotland face tough test from talented Belgium, says Andy Walker

Andy Walker - Andy Walker Posted 4th September 2013 view comments

Considering how well we played in June away to Croatia, it's no surprise that expectations among Scotland supporters have been lifted ahead of the clash against the classy Belgians at Hampden on Friday night.

But we should be realistic and exercise a little caution against a Belgian side that is packed with quality and tipped to get to the latter stages of the World Cup next year in Brazil.

Benteke: Aston Villa man is one of Belgium's many threats

Benteke: Aston Villa man is one of Belgium's many threats

In truth, our 1-0 win in Croatia could not have been predicted by anyone, but we caught them on an off night and played well enough to win through a solitary Robert Snodgrass goal.

On Friday, in front of a passionate crowd and a live TV audience, another positive performance should ensure that we are heading in the right direction under Gordon Strachan, Mark McGhee and Stuart McCall, but we can't escape the fact that this has been one more painful World Cup qualifying campaign.

Confident

We've yet to win at home whereas Belgium have won six and drawn one in their seven qualifying games to date, and just as it was against Croatia in Skopje, it's hard to predict a win against a Belgium side that will travel to Glasgow looking to secure all three points.

We can't escape the fact that this has been one more painful World Cup qualifying campaign.

Andy Walker
Quotes of the week

No wonder they'll be confident.

Thibaut Courtois of Athletico Madrid and new Liverpool signing Simon Mignolet compete for the keeper's jersey with class players such as Jan Vertonghen of Spurs and the injured Vincent Kompany at the heart of a solid defence.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne strut their stuff in midfield, while Moussa Dembele, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke and new £28million Manchester United signing Marouane Fellaini making all the difference at the business end of the pitch.

It's a remarkable array of talent for a nation that, like us, have been in the doldrums for too long.

Influence

On the plus side, Gordon Strachan can also turn to a number of our own players who are in good form, albeit with some performing in the lower leagues.

Alan McGregor has had plenty of action in the Barclays Premier League with Hull City and looks as though he'll thrive in that company, while Russell Martin and Grant Hanley played well as a defensive partnership against England at Wembley.

Robert Snodgrass is fast becoming a big influence on how Scotland play and in the absence of the now retired Kenny Miller, it'll be interesting to see who gets the nod up front from Gordon Strachan.

Watford's wing-back Ikechi Anya may well make his debut at some point after impressing with his pace and crossing ability under the guidance of Gianfranco Zola.

Whoever is chosen to start the game on Friday night and whatever happens in terms of the result, our focus now has to be on getting prepared to qualify for the European Championships in France 2016.

Now that Gordon Strachan has the players believing they can play and compete against the best players in Europe, it's a realistic aim.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Gary Neville

Nev: Consistency key for Danny

Gary Neville says Arsene Wenger can turn Danny Welbeck into a great striker, as he did with Thierry Henry....

Graeme Souness

Souness: 'Liverpool lightweight'

Graeme Souness says Liverpool’s defeat in Basel proves that the current side is a shadow of their former selves....

Peter Beagrie

Beagrie: Vardy deserves cap

An England call-up would be rich reward for all of Jamie Vardy's hard work, says Peter Beagrie....

Latest News RSS feeds

Gerrard blasts 'soft' Liverpool

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard accused his side of being "soft all over the pitch" in their 1-0 defeat at FC Basel.

Wenger hails electric Welbeck

Arsene Wenger says hat-trick hero Danny Welbeck showed the "instinct of a goalscorer" in Arsenal's win over Galatasaray.

Rodgers: Sturridge not in squad

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Roy Hodgson has agreed to leave Daniel Sturridge out of his England squad.

Sky Sports Today

Reaction to last night's Champions League action in our live blog, plus all the latest breaking news.

Welbeck fires Arsenal to win

Danny Welbeck's hat-trick helped 10-man Arsenal ease to a 4-1 Champions League win over Galatasaray at the Emirates.

Features

Midfield master

Midfield master

Match-winner Nemanja Matic is now an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team, says Roberto di Matteo.

Manuel Pellegrini is still struggling to bring the best out of Manchester City after Champions League draw with Roma

Manuel Pellegrini is still struggling to bring the best out of Manchester City after Champions League draw with Roma

"I am absolutely sure that Manchester City will eventually win the Champions League," said Manuel Pellegrini before City's 1-1 draw with Roma. The key word being 'eventually'. On this evidence, City's date with destiny still lies far in the future.

Champions League: Andre Villas Boas has made a strong start to his time in charge of Zenit St Petersburg

Champions League: Andre Villas Boas has made a strong start to his time in charge of Zenit St Petersburg

“If we win all nine matches, Zenit will be champions.” The words of Andre Villas Boas upon being named Zenit St Petersburg manager in March seemed wildly optimistic given the circumstances.