Steve Clarke made a wining start to life as Scotland manager with a win against Cyprus but his honeymoon could come to a swift end as they now face Belgium in Brussels. Clarke, who left Kilmarnock with a third in the SPL, has given an injection of positivity into the side and the players are very much responding well to his presence, but it will take time for him to have an imprint on a side that does have plenty of quality – they have Champions League winner Andy Robertson, Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser and Celtic pairing Callum McGregor and James Forrest – but one which has seen plenty of upheaval through the past three years.
Clarke is their fourth manager since late 2017 and that showed in their performance against Cyprus, when the well organised Cypriot defence managed to keep them quiet every time they managed to make hay down the left side. The visitors had been relatively comfortable for an hour until Andy Robertson’s stunning strike and when Ioannis Kousoulos evaded Robertson for the equaliser the tension was palpable before Burke’s late goals. Scotland won the shot count 16-10 but they also drew the shots on target count there in what was a slow start to the Clarke era.
Belgium have no such problems. This is arguably the best side they’ve had and Roberto Martinez’s men finished third at the World Cup and they’re racing onto the Euros, with three straight victories in their qualifying group. They got their campaign off to a flying start with an impressive 3-1 win over Russia on the first matchday and had no hassle brushing Cyprus aside with a 2-0 win, and they built on their commanding position when beating Kazakhstan 3-0 on Saturday.
The midfield pairing of Kevin de Bryune and Axel Witsel provides an excellent platform for their lethal front three of Romelu Lukaku (46 goals in 80 caps), Eden Hazard (30 goals in 101 caps) and Dries Mertens (17goals in 84 caps). Both Mertens and Lukaku scored against Kazakhstan whilst Hazard opened the scoring against Cyrpus, whilst scoring a double against Russia in the opener.
Belgium v Scotland
UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier
19:45 Sky Sports Main Event HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
SEP 2018 FRIENDLY Scotland 0-4 Belgium
SEP 2013 WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFYING Scotland 0-2 Belgium
OCT 2012 WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFYING Belgium 2-0 Scotland
SEP 2001 WORLD CUP 2002 QUALIFYING Belgium 2-0 Scotland
MAR 2001 WORLD CUP 2002 QUALIFYING Scotland 2-2 Belgium
Going to Brussels would be a tough task for any team, but it might well have come at the wrong time for Scotland and Belgium should make it four wins from four. They have beaten a one goal handicap in each of their three wins and two of them have been to nil – a similar result wouldn’t surprise here.
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