GORDON Strachan has successfully pushed the most sensational football result of 2014 out of his mind.
Scotland face Germany on Sunday night just eight weeks after the new world champions routed Brazil 7-1 in Belo Horizonte.
That semi-final performance was both awesome and chilling - five days later they won the World Cup final - and it is Strachan's responsibility to pick and organise a team which will spare Scotland a similar humiliation in the opening Euro 2016 qualifying tie. "I can't make sure it doesn't happen," he said yesterday.
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"All I can do is prepare properly and make sure that we know what we are doing when defending and have no fear when we get the ball back.
"It could be that they score six of the best goals the world has ever seen and there's then nothing we can do about that. That's the way life is. But I don't have that in my mind at the moment. I remember years ago when you played Romania you knew the danger came from Gheorghe Hagi. You had to look after him, or stay away from him in my case! There are teams like that with one guy pulling the strings. But the Germans are so rounded, and that's why they won the World Cup. They didn't have to rely on one player."
The Scotland squad suffered a third withdrawal when Graham Dorrans returned to his club, West Bromwich Albion, after succumbing to an injury he has been nursing for a couple of weeks. Andrew Robertson and Christophe Berra had previously pulled out, while Scott Brown, Robert Snodgrass and James Forrest were unavailable in the first place.
Germany's strength and options, not to mention the advantage of playing in Borussia Dortmund's vast and intimidating Westfalenstadion, mean they are overwhelming favourites. Some have even interpreted this as a fixture with nothing to lose for Scotland, but former Celtic manager Strachan bridled at that assessment.
"We have plenty to lose. I remember teams playing Celtic in a cup final and saying they have nothing to lose: yes they did. If you get beaten badly it's not great. I've been there. Someone tells me I have nothing to lose but then I get beaten it doesn't feel great, I can tell you. No matter what the score, losing is never great. It doesn't work that way, simply saying 'but it's Germany'. It's never great to lose."
Darren Fletcher will captain the team after Brown did so during the Manchester United midfielder's long absence through injury. Strachan, his backroom staff and some of the players watched television coverage of Germany's 4-2 defeat by Argentina in a friendly on Wednesday night. That was their first fixture since winning the World Cup.
Strachan gave his players a day off yesterday. "We had to do that, given the work they've put in over the last few days. Enough is enough . . . and even for the coaching staff enough is enough. They've been working from 8am-10pm. The players have trained four times in the last two days, so that's been enough.
"I think the intensity we've had out of the boys in training couldn't have been done if we'd had a friendly. No chance. We did something on the Germans on Sunday night and Monday morning and I said 'that's it, now we work on what we do'."