Challenging themselves against the best team in the world could be the perfect pick-me-up for Scotland, according to Ryan Christie.
The former Aberdeen player reckons tackling Belgium – the world’s No 1 side – can bring out the best in the Dark Blues.
Friday’s 2-1 loss to Russia at Hampden has left the national team well off the pace in qualifying Group I for the European Championships.
Six points behind second-placed Russia and nine adrift of section leaders Belgium Steve Clarke’s side badly need points if they are to reach Euro 2020 without requiring to use their UEFA Nations League play-off spot.
Lifting themselves to take on lower-ranked opposition after Friday’s disappointment may have been difficult for Scotland’s players.
But Christie says facing a must-win game against the world’s best means the Scots will have to move on from Friday quickly as they try to spring an almighty surprise.
The attacker, who was on loan to the Dons from Celtic for the second half of the 2016-17 season and the whole of the following campaign, said: “It’s a must-win tonight – that’s for sure – and everyone knows that.
“It will be a very tough game but football is a funny game and because it’s Belgium all the boys will be up for it and hoping to produce an upset.
“We know it will be difficult for us to get something, but we need to in the context of the group.
“They are a very good team filled with talented individuals.
“But it’s 11 players v 11 and we’re at home and we’re desperate to right the wrongs of Friday.
“I think there is definitely the quality in the group to hurt Belgium. Everyone in the squad has seen it over the last week.
“The gaffer has seen it as well and that’s what makes Friday hurt more because we went in with everybody on top of their game, feeling positive and with a good game plan.
“You think of Belgium and Kevin De Bruyne is someone that comes to mind as one of the best No 10s in the world – if not the best. You want to challenge yourself against these players and it’s why you play international football.
“You want to come up against the best and see how good they are – everyone will be desperate to start and try to make it difficult for them.
“In a strange way playing Belgium might work in our favour.
“It sounds ridiculous but if we were playing a lower-ranked team it may be harder for us but when you’re up against the No 1 team everyone is desperate to get back playing and test themselves against the world’s best and see if we can get a result.”
After a promising start against Russia on Friday the game slipped away from Scotland.
Early pressure resulted in John McGinn’s opener, but then they allowed the visitors to seize control of the game and goals from Artem Dzyuba and Yuri Zhirkov meant the Russians were deserving winners.
Christie was introduced off the bench just after the hour and was tasked with trying to spark something in attack.
After a promising opening spell Scotland’s lone striker Oli McBurnie was left isolated as the Dark Blues struggled to put Russia’s defence under pressure.
Christie, 24, felt sorry for the Sheffield United frontman and the lack of support he had in attack. He added: “Nobody had a particularly bad game, but there were moments here and there where we were loose and they add up.
“In international football it’s little things that can kill you. In the first half we ended up going back to front very quickly to Oli McBurnie.
“But when you don’t have players around to support him it can be very hard for Oli.
“I felt sorry for him because he had a good game, but we needed to help him out as a team.
“I was told to get closer to Oli, to try to create something and help him out a bit.
“The boys picked it up a bit in the last 10 minutes and I felt we came onto a game again, but the frustrating thing again was that the damage was done by then.
“A team like Russia were always going to be well drilled at seeing out games and that’s what they did.”