When Scotland first saw the fixture list for Group A, they would have wanted more than two points by now. Tonight they play Belgium, one of the most talented teams in Europe, at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels – not a game Craig Levein would have expected to win when the groups were drawn. But after such a poor start to their qualification campaign, they have to.
Starting with home ties against Serbia and Macedonia, before facing Wales in Cardiff, Scotland would have wanted six, seven or even nine points by tonight. But with Levein not picking their best player, Steven Fletcher, Scotland drew the games at Hampden Park 0-0 and 1-1. Fletcher was picked for the Wales game and made a difference, but Gareth Bale turned the game in the final minutes and Wales won 2-1.
The midfielder James Morrison admitted that Scotland have no option but to go for an unlikely win. "We just have to keep believing. It will be tough now, but we've got to win in Belgium, end of story," he said. "We've got to get the Wales game out of our system and put in a big performance.
"Belgium are a great side. They're probably the favourites to win the group, so it will take a hell of an effort, but we've got players who are capable of doing well out there."
Fletcher had a goal harshly disallowed in Cardiff and Morrison says that bad luck is the main reason for Scotland's struggles. "That's back-to-back campaigns now where dodgy decisions have done us in big games," he said. "When are we going to get a bit of luck? It's so disappointing because we were nearly there. When you're not doing so well, the luck seems to go against you."
Allan McGregor agreed. "It's hard to pinpoint what is going wrong," the Besiktas goalkeeper said. "As the manager said, there is just one ingredient away from things going well but luck is definitely not something we have had a lot of. The group was always going to be a difficult one, but we have to take the positives, block out the negatives and do our best to get a result."
Belgium: COURTOIS, ALDERWEIRELD, KOMPANY, VERMAELEN, VERTONGHEN*, CHADLI, WITSEL*, DE BRUYNE, DEMBELE*, HAZARD, BENTEKE
Scotland: McGREGOR, FOX, G CALDWELL*, BERRA, HUTTON, COMMONS, ADAM*, D FLETCHER, MALONEY, MORRISON, S FLETCHER
*One booking from a suspension
KO 7.45pm, King Baudouin Stadium. TV ESPN. Ref T H Hagen (Nor). Odds: Bel 1-3 D 7-2 Scot 10-1.Reuse content