• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Making the most of the calm before the storm . . .

THINGS were agreeably quiet around the Scotland camp yesterday.

Chris Martin does not expect Germany to be diminished by the absence of the likes of Phillipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker in Dortmund. Picture: SNS
Chris Martin does not expect Germany to be diminished by the absence of the likes of Phillipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker in Dortmund. Picture: SNS

Some of the players ambled into a couple of rooms at their Renfrewshire hotel to conduct relaxed media interviews. Then the squad set off for an afternoon training session. The media were invited to attend that but it was one for the photographers really, not the reporters. The session was held in the grounds of the hotel. Over in Germany, the new world champions held a training session of their own. Around 40,000 supporters turned up to watch it.

Germany are currently having to deal with the sort of noise and hubbub which comes as a by-product of winning the World Cup. Their first match since defeating Argentina in the Brazil final will be a friendly tomorrow tonight in Dusseldorf, against Argentina again. Inevitably their public currently has a voracious appetite for their team, hence the hordes which turned out yesterday. They were rewarded with autographs being signed and footballs kicked into the stands. Those supporters will expect further joy and satisfaction against Argentina in the friendly. And they will expect, with greater confidence, to see a victory over Scotland when the Euro 2016 campaign begins in Dortmund on Sunday.

On July 13 the World Cup final was tight. It took Germany 113 minutes to find a way through Argentina. A high-quality, organised team frustrated them to within sight of a penalty shoot-out. But Germany's tournament is more readily synonymous with what they did to a lesser quality, disorganised side in the semi-final. Brazil 1, Germany 7 was the sort of merciless rampage which Scottish viewers - knowing this September 7 game was looming - watched with a mix of admiration and trepidation.

"You just try to put that to the back of your head, really," said Chris Martin, the Scotland striker, yesterday. "You don't want to think about that too much or you might get carried away. They've got some world-class players but we've got some very good ones as well and I can't wait to see how it pans out."

The German squad includes 18 men who can call themselves World Cup winners. Of the five world champions absent on Sunday, Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker have retired from international football while Bastian Schweinsteiger has an injury and so does defender Shkodran Mustafi.

Martin, one of the three strikers in Gordon Strachan's squad alongside Steven Fletcher and Steven Naismith, was not able to derive too much comfort from the self-imposed removal of experienced defenders like Lahm and Mertesacker. "Whoever replaces them will be good and they've got to blood their youngsters at some stage," Martin added. "So we'll wait and see but you never know, it might make them a little weaker."

Further upfield for the Germans, Marco Reus missed the World Cup because of an injury and he will return, as will Mario Gomez.

There is a chance that Celtic's Callum McGregor will come straight into Strachan's line-up on Sunday despite never having featured in a senior squad before. The 21-year-old's size and mobility might make him a compelling box-to-box option on the right of midfield, given whoever plays across the middle for Scotland will spend plenty of the evening tracking back.

There is only one year and 11 days between the ages of McGregor and Mario Goetze, the German wunderkind whose goal won the World Cup. That was not even two months ago, yet it was inconceivable to McGregor, then, that he could have any prospect of sharing a pitch with the Germans. He had returned from a loan at Notts County with no reason to suspect his Celtic career was about to ignite. A debut, Champions League goals, a regular starting place and now an international selection have rushed in on him.

"It seemed a million miles away at the time," said McGregor when asked if he had watched the World Cup with any thought of Scotland facing Germany now. "But football is a strange game, it can move so quickly. You never know your limits until you are not able to do something. I've had a great start to the season, I've played and scored in the Champions League, so that gives me a lot of confidence that I can go and play at that level. I just think to myself 'why can't I?'

"It's a mouth-watering prospect, a massive game. We've got a very good squad and we're on a good run of form so this is a good stage for us to show everyone how far we've come as well. Everyone knew how good a team Germany were even before the World Cup but they proved that they're an outstanding outfit. So it's going to be a tough test for us but it's one we're looking forward to rather than dreading."

The Scotland players were relaxed yesterday, or at least that was the impression they gave. They did not have 40,000 watching their every move when they trained. Martin spoke of the Scotland-England banter being exchanged with his manager at Derby County, the former England manager Steve McClaren. Derby also have fellow Scots Craig Bryson, Craig Forsyth and Johnny Russell in their squad.

"He gives us stick but he didn't do too well as England manager so he gets it back," said Martin. "I can't really divulge what's been said but, to be fair to him, he actually brought out an umbrella when he did the ice-bucket challenge the other day."

McClaren memorably made a fool of himself by using a umbrella on the touchline at Wembley. Avoiding a deluge won't be far from Scottish minds in Dortmund either.

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

258772