A man as stoic and serious as Steve Clarke is unlikely to turn to the supernatural when in need of a result but on game day in Cologne, Team Herald are taking all the omens we can get our hands on.

Mingling with fans in the city there’s a cautious optimism among most that Scotland can get a result, at least a draw, to keep hopes alive going into the final match against Hungary in Stuttgart.

Jonny meets a group of American tourists in a café, all six are wearing Turkey shirts. The troupe grew up playing soccer together in college, and have made the trip to Europe to take in some of the matches. For each, they pick a side and sport their shirts in support. So far each and every one of ‘their’ teams has won. They will be wearing Scotland shirts on Wednesday night.

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Herald readers are a sceptical bunch, so that’s unlikely to be enough to convince you. But there’s more.

Standing outside the magnificent Cologne cathedral I speak to a trio of fans who have travelled over from Bute. They carry a saltire with an image of their father on it and the legend Toops Tartan Army. Toops Sr couldn’t make it over, you see.

I ask them for a score prediction. Paul Toop leans in knowingly.

“We’ve just spoken to an American in the cathedral who said he was praying,” he reveals. “He got a message from God saying we’re going to win 2-1.”

“McTominay and McGinn,” nods Phillip Toop.

Still need convincing?

On Wednesday morning I head down to the cathedral to catch a bus the city have put on for the media, which will take us to Cologne Zoo for a prediction from its most famous resident, Hennes the goat.

If we’re counting he’s actually the ninth Hennes since FC Köln adopted the goat as their mascot and symbol, his Wikipedia page lists all the previous Henneses (Henni?) and their ‘term of office’.

A few members of the Scottish and local media mill around as we wait for the goat to make his prediction. I exchange a few words with the director of the zoo.

“He better pick the right team,” I tell him. “Or Hennes will be haggis.” He does not laugh.

Finally the big moment arrives. The weight of history on his shoulders, Hennes is hesitant. On a first attempt he doesn’t even go near the three yellow balls, one marked with a Saltire, one with the Swiss flag and one indicating a draw. “He’s never seen so many men in skirts,” one of the zoo staff notes sagely.

A second attempt. Hennes heads for the balls. He veers toward the Saltire. He lowers his head… and raises it again. The crowd lets out a soft moan of despair. Hennes is angry now. He’s fighting with the trainer. He couldn’t possibly call this one, Clive. And then it happens. He places one hoof decisively on Scotland. The goat has spoken.

That’s God, the Americans and a goat on our side – what could possibly go wrong?