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Spiers on Sport: Germany versus Scotland is a terrifying prospect

Scotland has been told not to fear Germany in Dortmund on Sunday night. Comfortingly, Mark McGhee, the national team's assistant manager, has said: "We don't have a fear of getting gubbed."

A thrashing. A gubbing. A hiding. It's funny how, in denying the worst for Scotland, all these scenarios are cited while being categorically ruled out.

Germany are once more imperious on the world football stage - we witnessed this unmistakeably over the summer.

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Scotland, meanwhile, continue to limp along as third-raters, notwithstanding some recent improvement under Gordon Strachan.

No wonder some of us fear the worst in this looming Euro 16 qualifier. There are light years separating Joachim Low's team from Gordon Strachan's in terms of stature, self-belief and ability.

A glimpse at Scotland's 26-man squad, with a few thankful exceptions, reveals a regiment of honest-jobbers who will give their all, as limited as their all might be. The blunt truth is, Sunday evening bears down a tad frighteningly.

I plan to watch this game, as usual, through the cracks between my fingers. The fact is, if Germany can summon the correct attitude, they should be capable of destroying Scotland.

My one hope rests in these time-honoured, unflattering Scottish attributes - grit, resolve, determination, work-rate - which might serve to repel Germany, or at least dilute their tyranny. It may be Scotland's best hope to make this game as grisly a spectacle as possible.

Thank goodness for Steven Naismith. The former Kilmarnock and Rangers striker is thriving at Everton, having grabbed his first-team opportunity after team-mate Ross Barkley suffered an injury.

The Everton fans haven't always rated Naismith, but they have been singing his praises these days, and with good cause. This 27-year-old Scottish striker's mix of ability, game-intelligence and energy is something to behold. We will need Naismith in Dortmund.

Nor is any of this gloom meant to detract from the work of Gordon Strachan, who as a coach has restored quite a bit of self-pride in Scotland over the past 12 months.

After a very decent performance against England 12 months ago at Wembley I wrote that, in Strachan, the Tartan Army had "a manager they can trust". Nothing since then has led me to change my mind.

But these Euro qualifiers are now the hard currency. Strachan's bedding-in period is over, it is only hard facts - and not hard luck - which we will deal in now.

Let's see how buoyantly Strachan's men can fare against Germany, Ireland, Poland, Georgia and Gibraltar over these next 18 months.

Strachan has a 50% better chance than any previous Scotland coach of recent times in getting to a Euro finals…because the tournament is now 50% bigger, extending from 16 to 24 teams. This is the acid test - can he cajole a team of moderate talents back to football's high table?

Many players who have played under the Scotland coach laud him for his ways. Strachan is said to be terrific on the training-ground, and tactically bright and pro-active. All of this rings true and sounds grand.

But the old adage remains - almost without exception, a manager is only as good as his players. And Scotland remains in abeyance in terms of genuine, top-quality international players. Of Strachan's current squad, next to none of them falls into this category. It remains an on-going concern.

The Tartan Army aren't worried, and nor should they be. The Scotland support has a nice sense of irony and a self-deprecating humour in these situations.

They are passionate about their country, but have long understood that we lost our knack for producing great footballers. It doesn't diminish their ardour for Scotland.

In truth, it will be in the other forthcoming qualifiers - against Ireland and Georgia at home, and Poland away - that Scotland must hope to garner maybe seven points in Group D before November is out. These games, more than this weekend's terrifying prospect, might determine our chances in the group.

Anything is possible in Dortmund. Football not infrequently defies logic and expectation. I just hope Germany show us some compassion.

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