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WoodStein

Belgium V Scotland

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I was joking recently about this area becoming 'the death zone'.....but with nothing on the Womens World Cup, or last night's big qualifier, that maybe wasn't far off the mark? It's 'hibernation time' for us, of course, the dreaded close-season forum, where rumours, signings & ST prices dominate.

I only watched the Sportscene highlights, but Belgium were so far ahead of us, 3-0 was no real surprise. I guess the full match may have shown some evidence of a better 'shape' to the side, and perhaps some improved tactical awareness & workrate from Clarke's early influence....he certainly sounded reasonably positive about those aspects, whilst accepting we were well beaten.

'Highlights', in a fairy one-sided series of chances, meant that the defence featured much more than the attack. By HT, I was already thinking of Cobra's comment on the Cyprus game "We really do make defending look so difficult...", and by FT, we had made 3 simple, but crucial mistakes.

  • Within 15 seconds of what would have been a good score to go in with, McTominay did well to block a chance & the ball seemed to be heading for a corner, so he switched off....but Hazard didn't, his 5-yard burst of speed that usually takes him away from tackles saw him keep it in, turn & chip it onto Lukaku's head for an easy finish....and suddenly Clarke's HT team-talk is altered.
  • After Marshall surviving a fair bit of a battering, the debut defender Taylor is caught 3 yards behind the defensive line, playing De Bruyne "onside" as far as the linesman could see (he was actually a foot offside, but marginal), and leading to the shot that fell to Lukaku. 
  • Losing the ball on the right, Hazard & De Bruyne fashioned some space for De Bruyne to take a 20-yard shot from the centre of the goal....McLean is right in front of him, but decides to turn side-on & 'skip' 2 feet into the air, instead of putting his body in the way of the shot.

Contrast those goals & the sharpness and clinical accuracy of Belgium around our box, with our solitary real chance....a great break from McKenna, good through ball to him, he slips while trying to shift the ball to his left, it breaks to the usually impeccable Forrest, who takes two unnecessary touches instead of a first-time shot, and the chance is gone.

Those 4 incidents highlight the difference between great & good.

Given Russia's results, and impressive scoring form, it appears that we're going to need to not just have the better head-to-head against them, but to also win in Russia to compensate for us losing in Kazakhstan while they won there. A huge challenge for Clarke...even though we have some very good players doing quite well in the EPL & Championship.  

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This might be controversial but I think part of the reason we are so far behind Belgium, France and even England is to do with immigration. These countries all have a significant number of talented and athletic black players coming through and that I think increases their chances of success at international level. Scotland has a real lack of ethnic diversity and I think it's hurting us.

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3 hours ago, WoodStein said:

I was joking recently about this area becoming 'the death zone'.....but with nothing on the Womens World Cup, or last night's big qualifier, that maybe wasn't far off the mark? It's 'hibernation time' for us, of course, the dreaded close-season forum, where rumours, signings & ST prices dominate.

I only watched the Sportscene highlights, but Belgium were so far ahead of us, 3-0 was no real surprise. I guess the full match may have shown some evidence of a better 'shape' to the side, and perhaps some improved tactical awareness & workrate from Clarke's early influence....he certainly sounded reasonably positive about those aspects, whilst accepting we were well beaten.

'Highlights', in a fairy one-sided series of chances, meant that the defence featured much more than the attack. By HT, I was already thinking of Cobra's comment on the Cyprus game "We really do make defending look so difficult...", and by FT, we had made 3 simple, but crucial mistakes.

  • Within 15 seconds of what would have been a good score to go in with, McTominay did well to block a chance & the ball seemed to be heading for a corner, so he switched off....but Hazard didn't, his 5-yard burst of speed that usually takes him away from tackles saw him keep it in, turn & chip it onto Lukaku's head for an easy finish....and suddenly Clarke's HT team-talk is altered.
  • After Marshall surviving a fair bit of a battering, the debut defender Taylor is caught 3 yards behind the defensive line, playing De Bruyne "onside" as far as the linesman could see (he was actually a foot offside, but marginal), and leading to the shot that fell to Lukaku. 
  • Losing the ball on the right, Hazard & De Bruyne fashioned some space for De Bruyne to take a 20-yard shot from the centre of the goal....McLean is right in front of him, but decides to turn side-on & 'skip' 2 feet into the air, instead of putting his body in the way of the shot.

Contrast those goals & the sharpness and clinical accuracy of Belgium around our box, with our solitary real chance....a great break from McKenna, good through ball to him, he slips while trying to shift the ball to his left, it breaks to the usually impeccable Forrest, who takes two unnecessary touches instead of a first-time shot, and the chance is gone.

Those 4 incidents highlight the difference between great & good.

Given Russia's results, and impressive scoring form, it appears that we're going to need to not just have the better head-to-head against them, but to also win in Russia to compensate for us losing in Kazakhstan while they won there. A huge challenge for Clarke...even though we have some very good players doing quite well in the EPL & Championship.  

I can see why that wouldn't come across in the highlights but I would agree with Clarke's positivity. I thought we did quite well considering the circumstances, you could see there was definitely some sort of shape and a tactical plan of sorts; always have a couple of lapses a half when you have to play a game in that style and we got punished quite brutally from a great side. Tough going when our level of player is someone who hasn't played much at international level and is more used to spending a week studying the movements of Steven MacLean and then having to change that to Hazard and De Bruyne; we can't do much about that but try to pick a bunch of guys and try to build on their experience.

Tried to watch as much of Russia V Cyprus as I could. Russia were a tad more dominant but it was actually a relatively similar game to the one we had in many respects, there were a few moments where Russia were nearly caught out and it could have been a disaster at a couple of points. Tough tough going against them and a new manager having to lift a team up to the level of getting at least 4 points from them right away but it is possible, I think getting one of the wins and not slipping up elsewhere would at least give us a bit of momentum going into the play-offs at least.

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