Scotland vs Belgium Betting Preview – 07/09/2018

Scotland vs Belgium Betting Preview – 07/09/2018

Scotland vs Belgium

Scotland take on Belgium at Hampden Park on Friday night in a glamour friendly tie for the hosts, before both teams begin their inaugural UEFA Nations League campaigns.

For Scotland, they are still in the early stages of a new era under a familiar face, with Alex McLeish back in charge after Gordon Strachan’s unsuccessful attempts to get them to a major tournament. McLeish was previously manager of his country in 2007, where he came so close to guiding his team to qualification for Euro 2008.

It was under his management that Scotland recorded one of their greatest ever results in international football when beating France 1-0 away in Paris thanks to James McFadden’s wonder goal. The team were within one game of earning themselves a place in the World Cup play-offs in their previous qualifying campaign, but ultimately fell short as a 2-2 draw away to Slovenia in their final match eliminated them from the tournament.

There were plenty of positives for Scotland to take from their performances throughout qualifying, including a 2-2 draw against England, as well as wins against both Slovenia and Slovakia at home. At Hampden Park they produced some excellent performances and results, but it was a 1-1 draw at home to Lithuania early on in the qualifying process that ultimately cost them dearly.

Beating sides they are expected to has often let Scotland down in recent times, which may well see the Nations League suit them. The tournament has been designed to ensure competitive fixtures during the international breaks and the Tartan Army have been drawn in a winnable group alongside Israel and Albania. This may well be their best route of progressing to Euro 2020 in two years time, with a team from League 3 being guaranteed a qualifying berth via the Nations League and they will fancy their chances of winning Group A.

As such, expect McLeish and his team to take their fixtures in the tournament seriously and with the intention of winning the group and get into the play-offs in March 2020. Scotland have seen four players withdraw from the squad through injury so far in Jack Hendry, Tom Cairney, Matt Phillips and Oliver McBurnie. It’s already an inexperienced squad, with it looking as if McLeish is keen to use more domestic based players or those who have made their name in the Scottish Premiership in his tenure.

Scottish champions Celtic have five representatives in the squad, although Scott Bain, Ryan Christie and Lewis Morgan have both been left out, while Scott Brown has retired and the aforementioned Hendry misses out through injury. There are just three players aged 30 and above within this Scotland squad, highlighting the lack of experience within their ranks.

Liverpool’s Andy Robertson has recently been handed the captaincy by McLeish and the full-back is arguably Scotland’s most accomplished player, having played in the Champions League final in May. He will hope to lead by example against a Belgium side packed with talent and ability, that are also fresh off of a tremendous run at the World Cup.

Roberto Martinez’s team twice beat the Auld Enemy in England as they finished third in Russia. They fell at the penultimate hurdle against France, who proved to be an immovable object at the back and won their semi-final thanks to Samuel Umtiti’s header. It was a meeting of two teams that had contrasting styles, with Didier Deschamps’ more pragmatic approach coming out on top on that occasion.

Belgium had played some excellent football throughout the tournament in Russia and their games were rarely dull, namely as they were forced to come from 2-0 down to beat Japan 3-2 in the round of 16 and defeated international giants Brazil 2-1 in the quarter-finals. Whilst there may be regrets from the tournament, what it will have done for the players is show that they can win against the very top sides in the biggest games.

Beating England and Brazil will have given the team huge confidence going into Euro 2020, having bowed out in disappointing fashion at both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016. It seemed things were clicking at just the right time for the Red Devils and they crucially had Eden Hazard in top form.

The winger has taken that form into the start of the new Premier League season with him and will undoubtedly be the man Scotland need to keep tabs on in this contest. However, they won’t have to worry about how to stop Kevin De Bruyne in midfield, with the Manchester City man set for a significant spell on the sidelines with a knee problem.

The majority of changes Martinez has made to his squad from the World Cup have been forced by injuries and they have a settled side with players who know their roles and responsibilities in the 3-4-2-1 system.

Going into the Euros in two years time, Belgium are likely to be one of the favourites to go all the way and rightly so, particularly after their efforts in Russia during the summer. They are also the clear favourites to win their three-team group in the Nations League, having been drawn alongside Switzerland and Iceland and will face the latter in their first game in the competition on Tuesday.

Belgium will be targeting victory in the Nations League, with the experience of winning – regardless of the prestige behind the tournament – only set to help their chances at the Euros. Winning can so easily become a habit at this level and they are a team filled with players that have won multiple major honours during their careers. Martinez may elect to experiment on Friday night, with the Iceland game set to take priority in this international break.

Recommended bets:

Belgium to score in both halves at 6/4 with Bet365 – BET HERE

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