5 talking points ahead of Belgium v Scotland

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Scotland were comfortably beaten by Belgium in their last encounter. (Ian Rutherford/PA)

Scotland face Belgium in a vital European Championship qualifier in Brussels on Tuesday night.

Steve Clarke began his tenure as national team manager with a 2-1 win over Cyprus at Hampden Park on Saturday night.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points ahead of the match against the Group I leaders.

Who leads the line for Scotland?

Kilmarnock striker Eamonn Brophy was handed his debut by his former boss against Cyprus. The former Hamilton attacker worked hard but found it difficult and was replaced by Oliver Burke who scored the dramatic late winner. The West Brom striker has pace and power and might be ideal as an ‘out ball’ against a side who will no doubt have the majority of possession. Marc McNulty and Jonny Russell are also in contention but whoever starts is probably in for a tough night.

Will David Marshall keep his place in goal?

Scotland v Cyprus – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – Hampden Park
David Marshall made a number of good saves against Cyprus on his return to the Scotland side . (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Clarke returned the Hull City goalkeeper to the starting line-up at the expense of Scott Bain and it raised a few eyebrows. It was the former Celtic keeper’s first start for his national side in three years and he made several good saves to thwart Cyprus. Marshall denied he was now the number one, and Bain had done little wrong in his previous outings but Clarke will make the call.

Does the friendly defeat make much difference?

Scotland v Belgium – International Friendly – Hampden Park
Scotland were hammered 4-0 by Belgium in a friendly at Hampden Park in September, with Michy Batshuayi, centre, netting the last of those. (Ian Rutherford/PA)

Scotland were taken apart by Belgium when the two sides met in a friendly at Hampden Park last September. Many of the current squad were involved in that 4-0 defeat and some have already noted how difficult a night they encountered. Clarke has said he is reading little into that game, while skipper Andy Robertson wants the Scots to be more streetwise. However they approach the match, they have to believe they can somehow get a result.

Is it a ‘free hit’?

Scotland are not expected to get a point, never mind a win. There are few games in football where that is the case for Scotland who pride themselves on being competitive every time they step on to the pitch. Belgium, however, are formidable opponents and, realistically, Scotland will first and foremost hope to put in an encouraging performance.

Tactics

Few people expect anything more than a backs-to-the-wall night for the Scots. Scotland were measured and organised at home to Cyprus so it is more than likely the visitors will try to keep the point with which they start the game, even though Clarke has said they must retain an attacking threat. It is sure to be a long night for the travelling Tartan Army but they would accept that if they were guaranteed even a draw.

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