SCOTLAND will face new world champions Germany in Dortmund with a gameplan and the belief that they can deliver a shock result in their first Euro 2016 qualifier, said Mark McGhee last night.
The national assistant manager gave an upbeat assessment of Scotland's state-of-mind ahead of the daunting trip to the Westfalenstadion for the opening qualifier on September 7. Scotland start their campaign with the hardest possible tie, before subsequent group games against Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Georgia and Gibraltar.
The Scottish Football Association also confirmed yesterday that Scotland will take on England in a friendly at Celtic Park on Tuesday, November 18, the first home game against the Auld Enemy since 1999. That will be only four days after playing the Irish there in a qualifier. But naturally the focus in the meantime is entirely on the opener in Dortmund. Scotland last faced the reigning world champions when they were in the same Euro 2012 qualifying group as Spain, losing 3-2 at home and 3-1 away.
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"We are not just going there to be fodder for the Germans," said McGhee. "We are not discounting it as a game that we don't need to get anything from. If we lose there, we can still qualify and we have another game soon after that, so we want to be prepared for that. But we are not going there to down tools. We are going there to try to get something.
"We understand the way the Germans play. Hopefully, we will compile a plan that will be designed to make it difficult for them. I know Gordon [Strachan] has seen them a lot over there [in Brazil] and we will know Germany inside out. We will have a plan and we will go there believing that plan will get us something out the game. For our lads, we have a breed of player who are up for it and have no fear. It is not an alien environment. They are not going somewhere where they will be in shock or star-struck.
"Before the tournament I fancied Germany could be champions and half-hoped that they would be because of our fixture against them. For the players and supporters to go to Dortmund, which is an amazing place, a fantastic football stadium, a great arena, it means everyone will enjoy it. Going there in their first competitive game I'd imagine they'd parade the World Cup and that'll make it an exciting occasion. Maybe it will distract them a little bit, maybe they'll take their eye off the ball!"
Meanwhile, there is renewed enthusiasm for the Auld Enemy fixture on both sides of the border after the general positivity which surrounded the countries' meeting at Wembley last August, the first friendly between them since 1988. Scotland lost 3-2 but the game was entertaining, competitive, and enjoyed by a crowd of over 80,000.
"I think the fixture itself had become a wee bit tired," said McGhee. "It needed time to be rejuvenated as a fixture. We could have gone there last year, we could have been easily beaten, the fans could have misbehaved and we'd never have seen another England-Scotland game for ages unless we drew each other in a group.
"We don't want to play them every year any more than they do. You have to mix it but the fact we're comfortable playing each other means the fixture being back is a good thing. We can call each other at any time."