After enjoying a perfect start to the EURO 2020 qualifying campaign, Belgium make a trip to Hampden Park for their qualifying clash against Scotland on Monday evening. For this clash, Roberto Martinez's side is the overwhelming favourite to make six wins out of six games.
For Scotland, the opposition of Belgium's size could not have arrived at a worse time, having suffered a disappointing 2-1 loss against visiting Russian side. After last defeat, the Tartan Army is set to miss out on automatic qualification spot in Group I. Steve Clark's men will consider themselves lucky to come out with anything against Belgium.
Against San Marino, Roberto Martinez chalked out a comparatively weaker attack with Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens starting the game on the bench. With Eden Hazard absent from the national squad due to muscle injury, Liverpool's Divock Origi is set to retain his spot for a trip to Hampden Park. Adnan Januzaj could lose his place to Napoli's Dries Mertens.
Midfield will remain same with Kevin De Bruyne shouldering creative responsibilities. The defence could see Jason Denayer, Toby Alderweireld, and Jan Vertonghen start for the second successive game.
With Thorgan Hazard, Axel Witsel, and Vincent Kompany not making the Red Devils squad due to injuries, there are no additional suspension or injury headaches for coach Roberto Martinez.
Fitness issues with Matt Ritchie, Kieran Tierney, and Scott McKenna meant that Steve Clark missed out on a few superstars for this international break. Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson will be a prominent presence in Scotland's back-four.
However, John McGinn has impressed in central midfield after opening the scoring in Scotland's match against Russia. He is set to feature alongside Callum McGregor and Scott McTominay.
Ryan Fraser, Oliver McBurnie, and Robert Snodgrass(in place of James Forrest) could form the Tartan Army's attack against Belgium. Steve Clark has no absentees from Russia game.
Scotland: Ryan Fraser
If Steven Clark's men have to get something against Belgium, they should capitalise in the short duration of time they dominate the ball. Scotland need to plan accordingly to catch the Red Devils on the counter by exploiting spaces behind their high line of defence.
This could be attained only if attack remains alert at all times. Ryan Fraser would be a vital cog with his pace to have a direct run at Belgian defence. But he will need the help of Andy Robertson, who will be present at left-back. Scotland need to move the ball at speed via the runs of Ryan Fraser in the channels.
Belgium: Kevin de Bruyne
In the absence of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne has the job to supply a prolific strike-force. With Axel Witsel missing out due to an injury too, Manchester City man has occupied a more deeper role with tactical discipline.
However, a deeper position has not deterred De Bruyne's creativity, with constant supplies to Michy Batshuayi in the last game against San Marino. Given Romelu Lukaku's high chance of starting against Scotland, Kevin De Bruyne, who shares a telepathic relationship with the Inter Milan striker on the pitch, could grab some assists at the Hampden Park.
Knowing the fact that they need to get something against Belgium, Steve Clark should be able to bring out a much better performance than one against Russia.
Belgium, who have a few regulars missing out, might find it difficult to breakdown Scotland with new combinations. There is no denying the gulf in class between the two sides and the Red Devils clearly look the favourites to gain three points from this contest.
Scotland 1- 2 BelgiumPublished 09 Sep 2019, 09:00 IST