Scotland boss Steve Clarke: We’ve got to be perfect against Belgium

Steve Clarke says his Scotland players must strive for perfection if they are to cause a shock in their Euro 2020 qualifier with Belgium tonight.

Scotland winger Ryan Fraser, left, and full-back Andy Robertson limber up for a training session at the King Baudouin Stadium. Picture: Virginie Lefour/AFP/Getty Images

The former Kilmarnock boss began his tenure with a 2-1 win over Cyprus at Hampden Park on Saturday to move the Scots three points behind the Red Devils, who have won all three Group I matches.

Belgium are the world No 1
ranked team but Clarke believes he knows what is needed to beat them in Brussels.

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He said: “Hopefully the 
players remember a lot of the messages they got last week, and then you have to execute your plan.

“We have to hope for an almost-perfect performance, certainly defensively. We can’t make too many mistakes because we know if we do, that we will be punished.

“They are a good team. We will give them all the respect they deserve, we will go out there and try to make it as difficult as possible for them.”

Former West Brom and Reading manager Clarke, however, stressed that simply
defending for the whole game is not an option. He said: “I always say to the players that you have to let the opposition know that you have the capability to hurt them, so it’s important to get the defensive side right but, if you go through the game and try to play 97 minutes with no attacking threat, then it’s going to be a really long night, so you have to get the balance right.

“Belief and mentality is very important. It’s something we spoke about a lot last week, the positivity that we try to build around the camp.

“I think there was a good feeling going into the Cyprus game. We did the usual Scottish bit where we tried to make a mess of it but we finished the game well and on a high so we still have that positivity around the squad and hopefully you can see that on the pitch tomorrow.”

Belgium beat Scotland 4-0 in a Hampden friendly last September when Alex McLeish was in charge but Clarke reads little into that.

The former Scotland defender said: “Things have changed. Football has moved on. Every game is different, there are no two football matches the same. Hopefully a better performance from us and a better outcome.”

One of the visiting scorers that night was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, with whom Clarke worked at West Brom. The Scotland boss added: “He was a very talented player, it was great to work with him. We had a fantastic season together at West Brom, and he scored 17 goals for us.

“We finished in a very good position. He’s got a great work ethic, he was a boy who loved to score goals.

“I’m really pleased he’s had such a fantastic career but obviously I hope he doesn’t do so well tomorrow night.”