Gordon Strachan: Players are not afraid of Germany

SCOTLAND manager Gordon Strachan detects a fearless approach among his players as they prepare to face the world champions on their own patch.
Gordon Strachan looks forward to facing Germany. Picture: John DevlinGordon Strachan looks forward to facing Germany. Picture: John Devlin
Gordon Strachan looks forward to facing Germany. Picture: John Devlin

Strachan feels his players are inspired rather than cowed by the prospect of beginning their European Championship qualifying campaign against Germany in Dortmund.

Scotland will go into Sunday’s game unbeaten in six games since losing 2-0 to Belgium at Hampden on September 6 last year.

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And he senses a belief that they can give Joachim Low’s side a fright.

Strachan, who has lost Graham Dorrans to injury, said from the team’s hotel near Glasgow: “I’ve been excited for a while and it’s got better since I got to the training facilities and here with the players.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge now because I can sense the players are really looking forward to this game.

“So I’m encouraged by that. There seems to be no fear whatsoever in the camp. There’s a reality obviously, we are playing the world champions. But there’s no fear. I like that.

“But they know they have to work hard to get a result and that’s been shown in the training this week.

“They are not scared of the occasion and where they have got to go. I was speaking to somebody last night that, when you play the game you have a fear of getting beat and when you have the ball, you have no fear.

“When the other team’s got it you have a fear of getting beat or conceding a goal, but when you have the ball, you should have no fear whatsoever. I think that’s the way we go into it.”

Strachan, whose team have won in Croatia, Macedonia, Norway and Poland over the last 15 months, added: “I do believe the system we have can give people problems if we do it right.

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“I don’t think we need to change dramatically to play against anybody. It’s a simple system when we’re defending and we all know where to go.

“We’ve done a system not just to play one team in one style - we think the system can be used against any team.”

Germany’s triumphant return to action was spoiled by Argentina on Wednesday night, the beaten World Cup finalists going four up inside 50 minutes before holding on for a 4-2 win.

The Dusseldorf defeat also saw Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler suffer a thigh injury that sees him join Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Mats Hummels on the sidelines for Sunday.

Low is already adjusting to the loss of Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm and Miroslav Klose through international retirement.

But Strachan claimed he read little into the contest while he watched on television.

“I had a great steak pie, watched good football and had a ginger beer and lime,” the 57-year-old said. “So it was a great night.

“I think it was a game we expected. We expected free-flowing football, people trying to make an impression on this game because they knew it was a celebration of football, of Germany’s win.

“I thought Argentina were terrific as well.

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“It was a wonderful game to watch from a neutral’s point of view but we didn’t take anything out of it because I think it will be a completely different team.

“And it’s a competitive game, and the Germans come alive when it becomes competitive.

“When you say to the Germans you have to compete, they are a different animal. I can’t remember the last time they didn’t qualify for anything. They come alive when it’s a real game.”

Strachan has his own injury problems with West Brom midfielder Dorrans joining Ipswich defender Christophe Berra and Hull left-back Andy Robertson in withdrawing from the squad.

Dorrans, who has been playing on for his club while carrying a knock, joins a list of missing midfielders that includes Scott Brown, Robert Snodgrass and James Forrest.

But Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher will make his first competitive appearance for Scotland for 23 months after being restored to the captaincy in the absence of Brown.

Strachan said: “It’s great to have his enthusiasm and his experience. You can tell the players enjoy him being here and more so he enjoys being here.”

Strachan had already called up Aberdeen defender Mark Reynolds in anticipation of Berra pulling out with his knee injury and he will not replace Dorrans or Robertson, who pulled out with a calf problem.

The Scotland boss has Steven Whittaker and Derby left-back Craig Forsyth vying for a place at left-back.