Thursday 19 April 2018

Strachan calls for brave display as Scots seek to stall motoring Germans

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan during the press conference at Hampden Park
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan during the press conference at Hampden Park

Robin Scott-Elliot

Scotland must be "patient" and "incredibly brave" if they are to take anything from tonight's meeting with Germany and prevent their hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship being fatally trampled by the rejuvenated world champions, according to Gordon Strachan.

The Scotland manager is ready to make changes to the side that failed to register a shot on target in the 1-0 defeat in Georgia, acknowledging that their attacking threat must improve significantly if they are to challenge the Germans.

Scotland entered this international window amid a surge of optimism that automatic qualification could be theirs, but now face the stern reality that defeat to Germany would put even third place and a play-off place into serious jeopardy.

To make the task even tougher, Germany's stuttering form of last year, that allowed Ireland and Poland to take key points, appears a thing of the past. Joachim Low's side were not far off their eye-catching best in last Friday's 3-1 defeat of Poland.


Manuel Neuer yesterday compared Scotland to a boxer who has taken a hit, but will fight back; unfortunately for Scotland, the opponent they have to recover against is dancing round the ring like Sugar Ray Robinson in the mood.

"Germany are starting to roll," accepted Strachan.

"We will need to be patient and incredibly brave when we get the ball back.

"At times, when you try to be brave and pass through teams, you will lose the ball, but we have to not let that affect us because the rewards are well worth it."

Scotland's defeat in Georgia, their first since losing in Germany on the opening night of qualification, was crushing, not just for the outcome, but also its manner.

There was a timidity and startling lack of invention. Crossing was poor, set-pieces ineffective, possession was cheaply squandered and the attacking threat was near zero. Strachan needs to right that on-field wrong.

"Players are used to it. They are footballers, and they have never gone through their careers (with) it just being easy," he said.

"Everybody has trained well and it shows that they are over their disappointment."

Leigh Griffiths, scorer of eight goals for Celtic this season, but none yet for Scotland, is the popular choice to replace Steven Fletcher, although Derby's Chris Martin or Steven Naismith may better suit the role Strachan likes his frontman to play.

James McArthur, bright this season for Crystal Palace, is set to start in place of James Morrison. (© Independent News Service)

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