Belgium

Belgium vs Scotland

, KO: 19:45 Jun 11, 2019, King Badouin Stadium
Scotland

IT was alright on the night but only after one hell of a fright for Steve Clarke on his debut as Scotland boss.

The former Kilmarnock gaffer looked to be heading for an embarrassing 1-1 draw with Cyprus when his side conceded late on in their Euro 2020 qualifier at Hampden on Saturday.

But before the crowd had time to vent their fury, sub Oliver Burke popped up to grab a last-minute winner and send Clarke wild with delight on the touchline.

Always the pessimist, I half-expected Burke to miss an open goal after his header had come back off the woodwork, given he had missed two equally good chances during his loan spell with Celtic.

But the nation's most expensive player delivered when the heat was on and that precious goal should be enough to hand him a start in Brussels against Belgium.

As Clarke reflected on his first match, he praised the character of his players and claimed the dramatic nature of the victory would send them to Belgium in buoyant mood.

But no matter how good the Scotland players will be feeling, they will need a vastly improved performance to take anything from the world's No.1 ranked side.

While the Scots were scraping past Cyrpus, Roberto Martinez's men were smashing three goals past the Kazakhstan side that had embarrassed Alex McLeish's Scotland 3-0 in the group opener.

And the fact Russia also fired home nine goals against a San Marino side McLeish's men could only beat 2-0 says a lot about where the Scots stand in this group.

Even with a new manager bounce, it's hard to see Clarke's team inflicting Belgium's first competitive home defeat in nine years, an outcome which pays 25/1 at Ladbrokes.

A draw, which is 41/5 with Marathonbet, also looks a tall order and it's easy to see why the Belgians are 1/9 hot favourites with some firms. However, if you double a home win with a clean sheet the odds improve to 13/20 with Bet Victor.

It ended 4-0 to Belgium when these sides faced off in a Hampden friendly earlier this year and a repeat of that scoreline pays 17-2 with Bet Victor.

But Clarke should make Scotland much harder to beat on the evidence of his excellent work with Kilmarnock. I watched Killie lose 5-0 to a second-string Celtic team in the League Cup at Parkhead just a few months before Clarke took over and it was one of the worst performances I have ever seen.

Yet just two months later, with Clarke having replaced Lee McCulloch at the helm, Killie earned a deserved 1-1 draw at the same venue. Further excellent results against both sides of the Old Firm, with Clarke ultimately taking Killie into Europe, helped land him the Scotland job.

If he can sort out a ragged Kilmarnock defence so quickly there's no reason why he can't do the same to a Scotland rearguard that was leaking goals under McLeish. But Belgium's superstar attack possesses far too much firepower for the Scots and I can see them easing to a comfortable win.

I don't think it will be as bad as that friendly hammering but back the Belgians at -2 in the handicaps which pays a decent 5/4 at Paddy Power. A 3-0 scoreline might also be worth a punt at 11/2 with Bet Victor.

Another decent option is backing the first 45 minutes to be the highest scoring half. Belgium could get the job done early and take their foot of the gas so it looks good value at 12/5 with Ladbrokes.

Eden Hazard boasts three goals from his last three internationals and takes the penalties for the Red Devils. But the Real Madrid new boy is a best 19/20 for anytime scorer so try to get more value by backing him at a boosted 7/2 for first scorer with William Hill.

The one ray of hope for Scotland is that the pace of Burke, James Forrest and Ryan Fraser could cause Belgium some problems on the break. Fraser offers the best value in the anytime scorer market at 10/1 (Paddy Power), with Burke 9/1 (Bet 365) and Forrest 8/1 (Paddy Power).

This match between Belgium and Scotland will be played on Jun 11, 2019 and kick off at 19:45

Belgium vs Scotland Betting Tips & Predictions
Belgium -2 in handicaps
5/4
PaddyPower
Eden Hazard first scorer
7/2
William Hill
First half highest scoring half
12/5
Ladbrokes

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