Germany v Scotland: Can the hosts overcome a spirited Scottish challenge?

Germany v Scotland: Can the hosts overcome a spirited Scottish challenge?

Festus Chuma 08:42 - 14.06.2024

EURO 2024 kicks off with Germany facing Scotland in a thrilling Group A opener promising high stakes and exciting football.

Germany and Scotland are set to face off in the opening match of UEFA EURO 2024 in Group A on Friday, June 14.

The match promises to be a captivating encounter, as Germany aims to rekindle the spirit of their 2006 World Cup run and secure a record-breaking fourth EURO title.

After group stage exits in two of the last three major tournaments, the German team, under the guidance of Julian Nagelsmann, seeks redemption.

Nagelsmann, who took over from Hansi Flick last year, had a rocky start, but victories against France and the Netherlands in March suggest a brighter future under the 36-year-old former Bayern Munich coach.

A win in Munich would certainly boost hopes of a deep tournament run for Die Mannschaft.

This summer's championship marks Germany's first Euros in the post-Joachim Low era and only their second major tournament since the former World Cup-winning coach stepped down after Euro 2020.

That tournament ended in a painful last-16 elimination at the hands of England.

Eighteen months after a disappointing World Cup 2022 performance, Germany is considered the outright favorite to top a group that includes Hungary and Switzerland.

Despite a slow start under Nagelsmann, the hosts enter Friday's match with renewed confidence.

"When I look into the players' eyes, I can see they want a home win in our first game. I'm really looking forward to it. It's a very nice feeling. I'm a little nervous myself. It's a big tournament. It's a special moment to be able to lead the team and lead the country.

Scotland are a very good team with a lot of flair. They play a lot of crosses and are very dangerous. Their players give everything and throw themselves into every challenge – that's the Scottish mentality," he said in a pre-match interview.

Germany's recent form in friendly matches has been promising, with three wins and one draw in 2024.

They defeated powerhouses France and the Netherlands in March, drew with Ukraine, and edged out Greece earlier this month.

As hosts, Nagelsmann's men bypassed the qualifying process, meaning their last competitive match was a 4-2 victory over Costa Rica at the 2022 World Cup.

Despite their recent lack of competitive action, Germany has a strong track record of performing well when hosting major tournaments.

For Scotland, the match presents a different set of challenges. This will be their 10th appearance in the Euros finals, and they will be aiming to improve on past performances.

In both the 1992 and 1996 editions, Scotland managed one group-stage win before being eliminated, and their return to the continental stage in 2021 ended without a single victory.

Scotland's journey to Euro 2024 was marked by a strong start in qualifying, including a victory over 2008 and 2012 champions Spain.

However, their form dipped in the latter stages, and they arrive in Munich with only one win from their last nine matches.

Reflecting on the significance of the game, Scotland coach Steve Clarke remarked.

"The occasion will be for everybody else. For both sets of coaching staff and players, it's about the game; it's about how the game pans out.

Germany will want to win; we want to win, everyone else can enjoy the occasion. My family's here. They're going to enjoy the occasion and hopefully they enjoy the match as well.

We've prepared – we've waited a long time to be ready for this. We've worked hard in preparation and hopefully you'll see the results of that on the pitch."

In terms of team news, Germany will be without 20-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder Aleksandar Pavlovic, who withdrew due to tonsillitis.

Borussia Dortmund's Emre Can has been called up as a replacement, but Nagelsmann is likely to rely on a midfield pairing of Robert Andrich and the retiring Toni Kroos.

Ilkay Gundogan is expected to captain the side from the number 10 position, while Leroy Sane and Florian Wirtz vie for a spot out wide, and Niclas Fullkrug and Kai Havertz compete to lead the attack.

Scotland, meanwhile, has had its share of injury woes, with Queens Park Rangers striker Lyndon Dykes and Liverpool winger Ben Doak both ruled out.

However, key players like Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay, and Stuart Armstrong are expected to feature after overcoming recent knocks.

Predicted Germany XI: Neuer; Kimmich, Tah, Rudiger, Mittelstadt; Kroos, Andrich; Musiala, Gundogan, Wirtz; Havertz.

Predicted Scotland XI: Gunn; Ralston, Hendry, McKenna, Tierney, Robertson; McTominay, Gilmour, McGregor, McGinn; Adams.

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