Brilliant Belgium threaten improving Scotland

05 September 2013 12:46

Robert Snodgrass has warned his teammates that any progress made under new manager Gordon Strachan could be undone by a heavy defeat in their World Cup qualifier with Belgium at Hampden on Friday.

The Norwich City midfielder scored the winner in June's shock 1-0 defeat of Croatia to secure Scotland's first victory in a poor Group A qualifying campaign.

And the 25-year-old was also involved at Wembley last month as Strachan's side put in an encouraging performance in a narrow 3-2 defeat to rivals England in a friendly to mark the Football Association's 150th anniversary celebrations.

However, Snodgrass knows any confidence that has built up from these games could take a knock if the Scots take a battering from the Belgians, who top Group A.

"People might say we're improving, progressing, doing this and that but results speak the loudest," Snodgrass said.

"OK, we've run England close, done well against Croatia and would have beaten Wales if I hadn't been sent off. So there are signs of improvement but, come Friday, all that will go down the drain if we lose 3-0 or 4-0.

"If that happens, people will say we're back to square one. The manager knows all that, it's in the back of his mind, but he's trying to bring in exciting youngsters like James Forrest, Leigh Griffiths, even Jordan Rhodes is still young.

"But we always speak about the future. Hopefully we get a good result to keep the progress up, then see where it takes us.

"We're not going to get carried away but in every game there are signs we're improving."

Scotland were the first European nation to be eliminated from the qualifying stages for the 2014 World Cup and head into this match against Belgium looking for a first victory over the Red Devils since 1987.

When Belgium met Scotland in Brussels last October the hosts eased to a comfortable 2-0 victory with goals from Aston Villa's Christian Benteke and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany.

Against a squad packed full of stars including Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Manchester United's new £27.5 million ($42.7 million, 32.4 million euros) signing Marouane Fellaini, defender Russell Martin knows Scotland will have their work cut out on Friday.

"It is their golden generation coming through. It is no coincidence as they work extremely hard on their youth set-up over there," Martin said.

"They are powerful, but they've got match-winners in their team as well.

"If you look at their team, they all play for top leagues throughout Europe, many Premier League players, so it makes it tough.

"But we're at home, we'll try to play the way we want to play, at the tempo we want to play at and hopefully go toe to toe with them and see how we come up."

Despite sitting top of Group A, three points clear of Croatia, Belgian defender Nicolas Lombaerts, who should play due to injuries to Vincent Kompany and Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen, has warned his teammates not to underestimate Scotland after watching their win over the Croats in Zagreb three months ago.

"I certainly don't expect it will be a walk in the park for us against Scotland," the Zenit St Petersburg player said.

"We cannot afford to slip up against them as they are a strong side and especially so at home.

"Croatia may well have underestimated them and paid the price.

"We need to keep our feet on the ground and not start crowing about victories in advance.

"We are still by no means certain of being able to go to the World Cup Finals."

Source: AFP