After their loss against Wales on Friday evening, Scotland’s hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup lay in tatters. Scotland are already five points behind joint leaders Belgium, who they face tonight (7.45pm BST).
Although their chance of qualification is now thin already, another loss could leave manager Craig Levein out of a job. Friday’s loss to bitter rivals Wales was Scotland’s first of the qualifying campaign but after two successive draws against Serbia and Macedonia, three points was essential.
If Scotland were to lose in Brussels a gap of eight points with just six matches left would be far beyond this Scottish team and it would be another fruitless qualifying campaign. Despite leading Wales for more than 50 minutes thanks to a James Morrison goal, Scotland were undone by Gareth Bale twice in the last 10 minutes. Although the penalty will be debated, Scotland could and should have put the game to bed and perhaps their naivety cost them. However even without the penalty, a point would not have been enough for Scotland.
1998 was the last time that Scotland qualified for the World Cup and it appears than they will have to wait until at least 2018 for their next tournament. In truth, Scotland were never fancied to get out of a fairly tough group, with Belgium, Croatia and Serbia all ranked above them in the world.
Belgium (best price 4/11 for this game with Betfred & Ladbrokes) are not just fancied to easily beat Scotland but to qualify with some ease from Group A. Belgium are currently enjoying a wealth of talent that is slowly dominating the Premier League.
One could argue that Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City’s best player’s so far this season have all been Belgian. Vertonghen, Vermaelan, Hazard, Fellaini and Kompany have all excelled and although individuals do not necessarily make a great team, with the depth of Belgian football at the moment, they most definitely should.
Vincent Kompany was not only the best defender in the Premiership last season but the best player and he deserves to lead a team to the World Cup. There is a case for arguing that the current Belgian team is one of the most talented in world football and their current transfer value of about £155m supports that theory. Eden Hazard has caused havoc in the Premier League this season to some of the world’s best defenders, sadly none of which are Scottish. Scotland absolutely must start well and even then they could well be in for a long evening.
Belgium v Scotland Betting Tips
At least Scotland (10/1 to win this with Blue Square, Stan James & BetVictor) have the experienced Darren Fletcher in their side and after his two-year absence, he will be key to dominating the midfield battle with Fellaini and Hazard. With Rangers now languishing in the third division, Scottish football needs improving and reaching a major tournament is the only way that will happen, although sadly a win in Brussels is surely beyond them.