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'The model we should be looking at is Germany'

THERE should be trepidation in preparing for a meeting the Germans.

Matthias Sammer, left, convinced German football to stick to its principles rather than emulate those of Pep Guardiola's Barca. Picture: Getty
Matthias Sammer, left, convinced German football to stick to its principles rather than emulate those of Pep Guardiola's Barca. Picture: Getty

This understandable emotion is swamped by anticipation when one is a coach who has scrutinised the Germans and believes he has seen the future.

Mark McGhee's history with Germany stretches back to victories as an Aberdeen player over Hamburg and Bayern in the early 1980s as a subsequent playing spell with the former club. However, his present interest in matters Teutonic did not need to be heightened by drawing Germany with Group D of the qualifiers for Euro 2016 in France.

McGhee, No.2 to Gordon Strachan for the national team, is frank in his assessment of Joachim Loew's side. "I think they're brilliant. Even although the World Cup is in South America I don't think it's impossible that they will be world champions," he said.

Scotland will kick off their campaign in the qualifiers against Germany on September 7 but the return leg at Hampden will not be until the same date in 2015. McGhee is both realistic and upbeat about the prospect of facing a side that has never won a World Cup as a unified nation but has lifted three as West Germany.

"Whoever we got from pot one was going to be difficult so then you think about who would the supporters want to watch. I think Germany will be a great spectacle but it will be the other games that will decide qualification not the games against Germany," he said.

The dedication of the German game and its modern propensity for sticking to a strategy has also impressed McGhee who believes these elements form a template that the Scottish game could follow.

He has been particularly impressed by the work of Matthias Sammer, now sporting director at Bayern Munich who was technical director of the German federation from 2006 until 2011, in setting up a gameplan that all German national teams would follow.

"I went to a conference a few years ago and listened to Sammer speaking about his belief in German football at a time when German football seemed to be getting really psyched by the Spanish and by Barcelona," he said. "He stepped in and said: 'Look there is a lot good about German football and let's stick to our principles'. You see that in Bayern Munich and the German game in general and the standard of German players.

"A lot of it comes from him - that kind of belief that they don't do what Spain or Barcelona do but do what they do best and it would be good enough to compete with the Spanish model."

Germany now have a clutch of players who adhere to the powerful but technically astute game with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Goetze, Toni Kroos all epitomising that mix of physicality and skill.

"If you asked us who do we want to play like we wouldn't say Spain, we would be saying - given what we know about Scottish mentality, temperament and players - the model we should be looking at is the Germans," said McGhee.

He pointed out that Strachan was a fervent admirer of the German game, adding that the Spanish team was "impossible to copy" given that it contained three or four players who he believed were among the best of all time.

"Forget that and look at what we do. Look at how we do it and develop it into a form that can compete with the Spanish game," he said.

"The Spanish game is still up there. You just have to look at Barcelona winning in Manchester last week, so they are still formidable. But I think the pace and the power of the German game and their directness makes them so impressive."

McGhee, in common with most observers, believes Group D will be won by the Germans with some ease. "I think they will look at the group and think there is no-one to trouble them," he said. "If Belgium were in the group it might be different but I don't think they will fear anyone."

Scotland face the Germans away in the first match of the campaign and that surely will be written off by most realists as an inevitable defeat.

The next meeting will precede matches against Poland at Hampden and Gibraltar in Portugal that will form the end of the tilt at France.

""If they go and wipe the floor with everyone else and we can have a go at trying to get something from them then that will great," said McGhee.

"But I don't think it will come down to the games with Germany, it will come down to the games with Poland, the Republic of Ireland and Georgia. And they will all be talking about it in the exact same way as we are."

Any admiration for these sides will be tempered by a determination to finish above them.

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