SCOTLAND will fight to protect 15 months of progress and momentum when they take on world champions Germany in the opening Euro 2016 qualifier on Sunday, according to the national team's assistant manager Mark McGhee.
The most daunting fixture in international football - away from home to the best team in the world, in the bearpit of the Westfalenstadion - is only five days away. Scotland's form and morale have improved dramatically under manager Gordon Strachan since the turning point of a victory in Croatia in June last year but McGhee acknowledged Germany's ability to inflict serious damage on Sunday night.
However, the Scotland No.2 remained characteristically upbeat about the national team's chances and dismissed a suggestion that Strachan's management team might write the fixture off as so difficult it was effectively a sideshow to the qualification campaign. "I don't think so because we feel as if there's a chain effect whatever the result is," said McGhee. "It will affect the next game. It's important that any positive feeling we have created in the last year is not dissipated by one result.
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"There's a big, big pressure on us to go there and perform at the same [level] as we've been doing. We could play the best we've ever played in our lives and they could play the worst, and we might still not get a result. These things happen. The result is difficult to predict but we should expect the same level of performance we have had recently and then see what result we get."
Since the win in Zagreb, Scotland have beaten Macedonia, Croatia again, Norway and Poland, drawn with the United States and Nigeria and played creditably in defeats by England and Belgium.
"In terms of pressure there's no way we're giving up this game and saying 'it doesn't matter what happens in Germany as we have games in October and November'," added McGhee. "We're very serious about this game and we'll be working hard to get something from this match. Germany will be hopeful of doing well and repeating what Spain did by winning the Euros after winning the World Cup.
"But I think in a one-off we can take inspiration from previous results we've had against the bigger nations. No-one should have any fear going to play Germany. Look, anything can happen but we don't have any fear of going there and getting gubbed.
"We have players playing in the Champions League, the Barclays Premier League and the English Championship and playing in big, big stadia all the time. I think Dortmund certainly won't intimidate us. Most of the boys have played at Wembley, some in Barcelona and all over. So the stadium will only inspire them, there is certainly no danger of them being intimidated in any way by the atmosphere or stadium."
Aberdeen's Mark Reynolds was called up to the squad yesterday after Chrisophe Berra succumbed to an injury which has required some treatment at his club, Ipswich Town. Scotland are still hopeful that Berra will join the squad later in the week. Charlie Mulgrew has a slight knee problem which caused him to miss Celtic's weekend game at Dundee but he should be ready to train later in the week and be available for Dortmund.
Injured pair Scott Brown and Robert Snodgrass are significant losses but McGhee argued that Brown's absence from central midfield was partially compensated by the return of Manchester United's Darren Fletcher. "I'd have loved to have had them both. That would make me even more optimistic going there. Scott Brown has been a massive player for the manager in the short time he's been in the job. We will miss him as Celtic miss him. But having Darren Fletcher back is just fantastic.
"You feel the quality of the lad around the place and see the respect he gets from others. It's absolutely crucial we have someone coming in like him when 'Broony' is out."