Belgium v Scotland: Key battles

Darren Fletcher
Darren Fletcher's return to fitness is timely given Scotland's dearth of quality in midfield. Photo: PA

Scotland travel to Belgium for their World Cup qualifier with their hopes of reaching Brazil in 2014 all but over following their 2-1 defeat by Wales in Cardiff on Friday night.

Here we look at the key battles that could decide the Brussels encounter.


Benteke won a big-money move to Aston Villa from Genk in the summer and made an instant impact when he came off the bench to score on his debut against Swansea. The powerful 21-year-old grabbed the opening goal in Belgium's 3-0 win over Serbia in Belgrade on Friday night and might have scored a couple more. Benteke is just one of several young stars in Marc Wilmots' squad and his pace and power will have to be nullified by Caldwell and the rest of the Scotland defence if there is to be an unlikely away win. The Wigan defender does not lack confidence but he will need all of his considerable experience to keep the Group A leaders at bay.


Dembele watched his Tottenham team-mate Gareth Bale give Scotland the runaround in Cardiff on Friday night and will be looking to pile on the misery for Craig Levein. Belgian footballers continue to make their mark in England and the gifted central midfielder, 25, moved across London from Fulham to White Hart Lane in the summer for a reported fee of £15million. Dembele will pit his wits against the Scotland skipper who returned to international duty against the Welsh after being out for almost a year with a chronic bowel complaint. Fletcher had a quiet game in Cardiff and will have to dig deep into his reserves to try to help the beleaguered Scots win the midfield battle.


Another Premier League duel between two players who should have met last week on club duty. The Belgium skipper, however, missed Manchester City's 3-0 victory over Sunderland with a calf injury but he recovered to take part in the win against Serbia. The powerful defender will face an on-form striker whose two-year international exile came to an end in Cardiff following peace talks with Craig Levein. The 25-year-old has started the season well and was unfortunate to have a 'goal' chalked off against Wales. It is on Fletcher's shoulders that much of Scotland's hopes rest.