Preview: Gordon Strachan aiming to salvage lost pride against Fellaini’s Red Devils
After erratic and inconsistent displays throughout the group stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Scotland have almost no chance of sealing a place to the showpiece in Brazil next year. However, manager Gordon Strachan would be eager to salvage some lost pride as his team hosts Belgium at the Hampden Park.A disastrous start to the qualifying campaign cost former manager, Craig Levein his job. The former Dundee boss was shown the door back in November after the Scots slumped to the bottom of UEFA qualifying group A.
However, since he has taken over, Gordon Strachan has revived the national team’s fortunes. His tenure started with a shock 1-0 win over Croatia only last month, the side lost narrowly to England 3-2 at the Wembley.
And the wily manager’s arrival has been .
“I see it in him at every training session,” said Norwich forward Robert Snodgrass ahead of Friday’s qualifier against Belgium.
“He tells us, ‘Listen, you are good enough to do this – or you wouldn’t have belks today with sacked Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti.Ancelotti was shown the door just three hours after the final whistle of Napoli’s 4-0 rout of Champions League opponents Genk. The result sees the Azzurri reach the round of 16.TMW says managerless Aen picked. I’m picking you because I believe in you.’
“Mentally and physically, we prepare for a game. You have to believe you can get a result. That’s the only way.
“There is (the conviction) that, whnder Joel Veltman says they won’t be underestimating Champions League opponents Chelsea.The Dutch will be hosting the young Blues on Tuesday night.And Veltman told NUSport: “There will be no underestimation. Chelsea remains Chelsea. They certainly en Scotland are going in against these big sides, we can genuinely get a result against them.”
After Graham Dorrans, Allan McGregor, George Boyd and James Morrison withdrew, Craig Bryson, Chris Burke, Kevin Thomson and Lee Wallace have been drafted in the squad.
Belgium on the other hand, know that they hold their destiny in their own hands after an unbeaten qualification campaign. The Red Devils currently lead group A with 19 points from seven games and would be eager to stretch their run even further when they take the Scots who have not beaten them since 1987.
The history of this fixture is not doing the Scots any favours either. The last time they won, it was Ally McCoist and Paul McStay who scored in the 2-0 win in a European Championship qualification game at the same venue. This was their only win against the Belgians in the last 10 games.
Moreover, with an immensely talented squad that they have at their disposal, Belgium will be eager to make sure that no stone is left unturned as they look to make an eagerly awaited return to the big stage. And the last time these two sides met, it was again Belgium who came out on top which clearly indicates that the hosts are in for a tough time.
Meanwhile Chelsea’s Belgium star Eden Hazard is unlikely to feature after suffering from an Achilles injury while training with the Belgium national team. The extent of the injury is unknown, but an Achilles injury is bad news for any footrighton boss Graham Potter.The Australian tops the Premier League charts for most short passes.He said: “I think it is an asset that you have as a goalkeeper, which is only going to help you, definitely with the direction the game is going.”We work hball player and it seems that both Chelsea and Belgium will have to do without their star player for a while.
Meanwhile Liverpool’s new acquisition Simon Mignolet has done remarkably well for his new club in recent weeks and might have done just enough to displace Thibaut Courtois from the starting eleven.
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Probable starting lineups
: Marshall; Hutton, Martin, Hanley, Whittaker; Brown, McArthur, Snodgrass, Forrest; Miller, Rhodes
: Mignolet; Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Van Buyten, Gillet; Fellaini, Witsel, Dries Mertens, Chadli, De Bruyne; Benteke