THE Tartan Army are hopeful but by no means confident that Scotland can get a result against Germany in the Euro 2024 curtain raiser in Munich tomorrow night, reach the knockout rounds and enjoy a decent tournament.

But how do the host country’s supporters feel they will fare? As four-time World Cup winners and three time European Championship champions, they are one of the most successful teams in the history of international football.  

Their showings at finals in recent years, however, have been desperately disappointing. They failed to progress out of the group stages at Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 and only made it as far as the last 16 at Euro 2022. Can they do any better this time out?

Julian Nagelsmann has a wealth of talent at his disposal in defence, midfield and attack and the wins which his charges recorded over France away and the Netherlands at home back in March augured well for Euro 2024. There are, however, concerns in the Fatherland.  

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Fabian Scheler, a sports journalist with ZEIT Online, is optimistic that Germany will get off to a winning start against Scotland in their opening Group A match in the Allianz Arena this evening. But he is not entirely convinced that Ilkay Gundogan will be lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy after the final in the Olympiastadion in Berlin

 “Germany should still beat Scotland because they are better positioned in every area. Having said that, that's what people thought when we played Mexico in our opening game at Russia 2018 and Japan in our opening game at Qatar 2022 and it turned out differently.

“So maybe the opening game is the best chance for the Scots to get something. The pressure on Germany will be immense. On paper, the team can go very far. But I have refrained from making predictions for a long time. We journalists have been punished for that on a few occasions in recent years.”

So what are the areas which are causing German fans sleepless nights? Incredibly, it is the recent form of two of their most celebrated players, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Joshua Kimmich.   

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“Everyone is currently discussing Manuel Neuer,” said Scheler. “He has almost always made mistakes lately, but Nagelsmann has clearly set his mind on him. That could lead to a few exciting moments at the back.

“The two full-backs are the weak points in the Germany team in my opinion. Kimmich has been downgraded from his favourite position in the central midfield and you can see that he has problems there whenever he plays. He’s not 100 per cent happy with it.

“(Max) Mittelstädt and (David) Raum (the centre back pairing) are solid, but nothing more. It won't be a huge issue in the group stage. But if we are talking about Germany winning the title then I think it will.”

“The centre-forward question is also not completely clear because (Kai) Havertz and (Niclas) Füllkrug are simply such different strikers. It is a question of the system, who to field, not a question of personnel.”

So can Germany end their disappointing run at major tournaments and win Euro 2024 in front of their own fans? Or are they set to suffer another crushing disappointment?  “Anything is possible,” said Scheler. “It could be a round of 16 exit or a European Championship victory. Football can be so beautiful!”

And how do the Germans think that Scotland will acquit themselves in the coming 10 days? Scheler suspects that Clarke’s men can progress beyond the group stages for the first time in their history. But he thinks they have to develop more of a ruthless streak in the final third. 

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“From everything I've read about and seen of Scotland, they are very organized,” he said. “The midfield is the best part - McGinn, McTominay, Robertson and Gilmour are all names familiar to German fans from the Premier League.

“We shouldn't underestimate the whole team because their qualification was so successful and their support will be massive. And we are really looking forward to the Tartan Army being the 25th participant in this tournament.

“Julian Nagelsmann said before the European Championship that he had seen the 4-0 defeat against the Netherlands and he thought it should have been a 3-0 win for Scotland. I believe the Scots have a good chance of finally reaching the round of 16 if they can find enough people to score goals.”