I wouldn’t usually write about an individual game and especially about one that quite frankly was meaningless to Scotland (other than pride we always have our pride). However I was at the game and thought that I would share my thoughts on how the game went and the experience in general.
- Useless SFA
- I had no intentions on going to this game because I was working, however I got the night off and thought it would be nice to go and see the resurgent Scotland take on a glamorous Belgian side, so I only bought my ticket on Thursday and had to collect it at the stadium. Now anyone who did the same as I did (which based on the queue was many) will know what a disgrace this was. I showed up at 7.15 p.m. (45 minutes prior to kick-off) naturally thinking that how long can it take to pick up a ticket? However I soon found out that apparently it takes forever. It is bad enough having to stand in a line that runs for about 500 yards (and that’s when I joined it, and there were many behind me) but then imagine standing in it for 1 hour and 10 minutes as it rains the entire time, not what I’d call an enjoyable experience. Now the arithmetic savvy of you will have also noticed that I showed up 45 minutes before kick-off, yet was in the line for 1h 10 minutes, so yes I missed the first 25 minutes of the game, not really ideal after you have paid £35 for a ticket. It’s frustrating in so many ways because one of the best parts of going to a home international match is the pre-match atmosphere and anthems, because it doesn’t matter how you play afterwards it is still enjoyable, naturally I got to hear Flower of Scotland from outside the stadium, not quite the same experience. So finally I get up to the portacabin (along with a number of angry and frustrated fans) to see that there were more people outside directing the line of spectator than there was in the actual portacabin giving out tickets. Now I have sympathies for those in the portacabin because it isn’t their fault, but the SFA must have known how many people would be collecting tickets, yet they still managed to allow around 5000+ people miss the start of the game (to the extent I would wonder if those at the very back of the line would have seen the first half at all). So I am sure you can imagine my general displeasure after finally receiving my ticket and hurdling some horse shit as I rushed to my gate cold, wet and late, despite leaving plenty of time. Disgraceful from the SFA, showing a total lack of respect to their loyal fans.
- As a side note, some wee fanny jumped the line by offering some guys a few places in front of me a fiver (they rejected the money but let him skip anyway, idiots). So again you are annoyed by this and then you hear this absolute dick’s amazing story about how he battled the police after he was caught pissing in the street and handed a £30 on the spot fine. He was an intelligent man and said ‘bit whit if a doan’t pay it the noo?’, the police told him it was a £60 fine, but this intelligent man of the Glasgow area then said ‘bit whit if a doan’t pay that, whit ya gonna dae?’ and the police told him we’ll put you in jail (which I’m sure he’s used to). In the end our brave hero decided that paying the £30 fine was in his best interests, but sadly not in the best interests of the people of Scotland. It turns out that the very intelligent young man hadn’t actually bought a ticket yet and was in the wrong line……so he and his equally dim-witted friend shuffled off to the correct line that had nobody at it at all. You can only wonder how long he had stood in the line before he figured this out, I imagine pretty long. The future of Scotland looking bright once again….
- The match
- I thought we played pretty well, but not great (similar to against England). Belgium is clearly a better side than us and after they went up 1-0 they very much controlled the game and we never looked like getting back into it.
- The first half (or what I saw of it) was better than the second half, where both teams seemed to be rather lethargic at times.
- I thought that Marshall, Brown, Mulgrew and Anya (when he came on) were the bright sparks for Scotland. Whereas Maloney, Griffiths, Snodgrass, Whittaker, Hanley and Forrest were all very poor.
- For Belgium I thought defensively they were solid, Fellaini and Witsel dominated the midfield and Mirallas was almost unplayable once he came on. Was very disappointed with Benteke and de Bruyne’s performances.
- 2-0 was a fair result (Belgium never looked under pressure and were always in control), although 1-0 would probably have been a bit fairer after a gutsy performance from Scotland.
- We managed to get good width throughout the game, yet were never able to put in a good ball because there was nobody in the middle to play it to. Griffiths cannot play as the lone striker in this system, and we showed how much we missed Steven Fletcher tonight.
- How many times did Scotland players get into positions to cross first time yet cut back or took a touch too many? Too often. The same could be said about the play in the middle of the pitch, where we were often taking to many touches rather than just having a pop from outside the box.
- Someone needs to tell the fullbacks that they shouldn’t be diving into tackles and missing; I don’t know how many times Chadli and de Bruyne got past Whittaker and Hutton, and when Mirallas came on he gutted Whittaker at least three times. Hanley also needs to stop diving in and missing tackles, very much at fault for their second goal.
- Lack of goals
- It is really concerning that of the players that are still eligible for Scotland; Darren Fletcher is the top scorer with 5 goals. Fletcher is long term injured and who knows if he will ever play again (hopefully he will). In that case our highest scorer is Jordan Rhodes and James Morrison, both of whom have 3 goals apiece. 3 goals, is not good for your top scorer in your squad. This game was a good example of Scotland’s blatant lack of goals throughout the squad, and it is a major concern going forward.
- Scotland’s progress
- It is incredible the difference between Scotland under Strachan and Scotland under Levein. We have just had three matches in a row where we have beaten Croatia away, just been beaten by England away and then beaten in a good contest against in my opinion the third best team in Europe. The squad seems to have a lot of confidence which I would attribute to Strachan, and are now beginning to put in very respectable performances against top teams. We are heading in the right direction, and the future under Strachan is looking really bright.
- Tartan Army
- A really good attendance considering that this was essentially a meaningless fixture for Scotland, good to see the people are still showing up and supporting the team.
- Belgian Support
- The Belgian support was raucous throughout the match and really seems to be enjoying this golden era of Belgian football (rightly so).
- There were also a large number of Belgian fans in the Scotland end, to the extent that at times I was wondering if I was in the right section.
- Apparently there were 7000 fans that made the trip from Belgium, but it felt like more.
- Excellent away crowd that really added to the atmosphere of the match.
- Fanny’s in the crowd
- Why do people think it is funny to shout stupid things out during a football match? It isn’t funny, it is just really annoying. You know when you can hear his mates telling him to shut up, that he is a total fud.
Overall I enjoyed my night; I got soaked before the game and missed the start, enjoyed the game despite the result because I thought Scotland put in a respectable performance and then got soaked again after the game, typical Scotland. I think the future looks bright for Euro 2016, but we still need the wins to get a better seeding and the first step towards that is a win against Macedonia on Tuesday, here’s hoping.
As far as Belgium are concerned, I think they have a bright future ahead of them and could have a real outside chance of winning the World Cup in Brazil. I think they are the third best team in Europe just now (behind Germany and Spain), which is a real achievement for a country of Belgium’s size and should be something the Scotland should be trying to emulate for the future. You know you have a good squad when your subs are a starter at Spurs, a starter at Everton and a starter at Hannover. You also know that you have a good squad when you lose arguably your two best players (Kompany and Hazard, plus Vermaelen) and you barely miss a beat. The only thing holding Belgium back is inexperience, and personally I’d love to see them lift the World Cup, although I doubt it will happen.
Leave a comment on what you thought of the game and whether you think that Scotland are on an upward swing that will finally see us qualify for our first tournament since France 1998. Thanks for reading.