2020 UEFA European Championships group I qualifying match between Belgium and Scotland at King Baudouin Stadium on June 11, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium travel to face Scotland on Monday in the hope that they can extend their advantage at the top of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying Group I.
The hosts will be seeking redemption at Hampden Park after they lost 2-1 at home to Russia on Friday, leaving them fourth in the group and six points off the qualifying positions. Manager Steve Clarke won’t have entered qualifying expecting to be favourites to progress given the quality of their opponents, although it’s fair to say his side’s European Championship hopes via the group route are hanging by a thread. The Red Devils are one of three teams that remain perfect after five qualifying matches—Spain and Italy are the others—and they will look to maintain that record as Russia lurk just three points behind in second.
Belgium will have high hopes travelling to Scotland, having defeated them 3-0 at home. Scottish morale is at something of a low following back-to-back defeats in qualifying. John McGinn scored his first international goal to put the team 1-0 up against Russia on Friday, but Artem Dzyuba pulled one back before a second-half Stephen O’Donnell own goal completed their capitulation, as Sky Sports shared:
There is seemingly too much ground to make up for Clarke & Co. entering the second half of the group campaign, with Kazakhstan also sat one point in front. As such, their best route to Euro 2020 qualification appears to be via the UEFA Nations League play-offs in March. Consequently, the manager wouldn’t commit to calling this fixture a “must-win” but still suggested it is vital, as BBC Sport Scotland shared:
Belgium will be far more relaxed about their chances considering they have a recent win over this opponent. Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku scored a brace when Belgium and Scotland clashed in June, while Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne also got on the scoresheet: Kevin De Bruyne wrapped it up in injury-time. Belgium maintain their 100 per cent record in Group I after Romelu Lukaku’s double helps them to a 3-0 win over Scotland.
De Bruyne has been a key piece for City early on this season and is already sending signals he’s back to his best, as BT Sport highlighted: Caging that influence will be critical if the home team are to survive Monday’s visit of the world’s top-ranked outfit, who are 47 places ahead of Scotland in FIFA’s rankings. Scotland captain Andrew Robertson was honest in his assessment of the group following defeat to Russia, and he told reporters a result against Belgium is a must if they are to qualify via the group stage:
“Belgium are a big step up from Russia and when we get the ball we need to keep it because it is tough. It is going to be a hell of a task to believe we can get something from Belgium but we need to believe that we can. “We need a point or three points, it is going to be very hard but you never know, if we show up we can cause teams problems.” Belgium are Scotland’s biggest remaining test at home, with the visits of San Marino and Kazakhstan to come, though the chances of them springing a surprise on Matchday 6 are slim.