Scotland’s UEFA Nations League tie with Albania at Hampden tonight is a “must win”.
With only three teams in Group C1 the format is short and sharp which allows absolutely no room for slip-ups with home matches.
It is very much win or bust with the Hampden matches against both Albania and Israel.
The away ties in the group will still be tough so it is vital Alex McLeish’s Scotland side take maximum points on home soil.
Despite suffering a demoralising 4-0 loss to Belgium on Friday tonight’s game against Albania tonight is the important one.
If Scotland cannot top Group C1 they will have thrown away a magnificent opportunity to qualify for the Euro 2020 championships.
The bottom line is Scotland must take advantage of how the UEFA Nations League is set up.
You can’t complain about being drawn in a group of three when the other two nations are Albania and Israel.
Going into this game on the back of a heavy loss to Belgium will be frustrating for Alex.
Losing 4-0 to Belgium will be a hard one to take for the players, manager and the supporters.
What will be particularly frustrating is that the second best team in the world did not have to work too hard to find the back of the net.
It was a self-inflicted defeat from Scotland as three out of Belgium’s four goals were handed to them on a plate.
It will be a concern at how easily Belgium were able to punish individual mistakes and that is something that must be eradicated for the game against Albania.
At that level you cannot give away such easy opportunities to top quality sides like Belgium and not expect anything other than a roasting.
Alex fielded a quite young team against Belgium and hopefully they will learn from this.
Learn that you cannot give a team of the quality of Belgium any chances by making mistakes.
That lesson needs to be utilised tonight.
However, you also have to recognise that Scotland were playing one of the best teams in the world.
Belgium are up there with World Cup holders France and the two of them look to be well ahead of everyone else.
Belgium will certainly be looking at the Euros in two years as a tournament they can win.
What Scotland can take heart from is that they had a good shape and were working hard in the first half hour against the World Cup semi-finalists.
Then they gifted them a goal to go in at the break 1-0 down.
More goals were gifted to the Belgians but despite that the Scots still created three of four decent opportunities.
If Scotland can reproduce that level going forward and cut out the nonsense at the back they should be confident of beating Albania.
The Albanians kicked off the Group by beating Israel 1-0 so the Scots have to beat them tonight. Facing a Belgium side sitting second in the Fifa world rankings was always going to be a huge test.
Looking at it now, following the heaviest home defeat in more than 40 years, you would say it was not wise to take a game against Belgium just days before Alex’s first competitive game. However, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
If Scotland had put in a really solid performance against a side of that calibre then they would have taken a lot out of it for the game tonight.
However, the manner of the defeat has allowed the question to be asked as to whether the friendly should have been against opposition similar in quality to Albania. Only the manager and the SFA can make that decision.
If they had come out with positive aspects against one of the best teams in the world they could have taken that into the Albania match.
It didn’t work out that way and now they have to pick themselves up to get a win tonight.