DURING his brief but triumphant spell as a Champions League-winning player with Borussia Dortmund, Paul Lambert became accustomed to the meticulous preparation and attention to detail which characterises German football on and off the pitch.
So the former Scotland captain is in little doubt there is no chance of Germany ever suffering the kind of problems Gordon Strachan and his squad experienced on their return from Tbilisi after Friday night’s defeat in Georgia.
The SFA charter flight delay, which meant Scotland did not get back to their Mar Hall base until 7am on Saturday morning, has simply added to the difficulties involved in trying to revive their Euro 2016 qualifying prospects against the world champions at Hampden tonight.
Lambert is optimistic the magnitude of the occasion will help the Scots overcome any additional weariness but warns they will be facing a German side now in prime physical and mental condition after their initially unconvincing form in Group D.
“Our lads are just going to have to put what they have been through on the way back from Georgia to the back of their minds, get it out the road and try not to let it hamper them,” said Lambert.
“I don’t think it would have happened to Germany, though. The Germans probably own their own plane. They also have their own bus which is transported over and waiting for them wherever they go.
“It makes your life easier as a player when things are run properly off the pitch. Even when I was at Celtic, there were never any problems. It was the same in Dortmund, everything was spot-on. That’s the way the Germans are as a nation, it’s how they live their lives. But Scotland will pick themselves up, I guarantee that. They’ll train and get the stiffness out of their legs. When they arrive at Hampden on Monday, the crowd will lift them. That won’t be a problem, trust me. The 50,000 will do great things for them.
“We’re not out of it. If we get something out of the Germany game, anything can happen.
“But there’s no danger of Germany taking their eye off the ball against us. I saw that when I watched them beat Poland on Friday night.
“I actually went over to watch them last year, just after they’d won the World Cup, in their first game as world champions against Argentina in Dusseldorf. Argentina, without Messi, won 4-2 and really beat them well.
“Those lads who played in that game hadn’t been given a break – they played virtually the whole World Cup and went bang into a Bundesliga season. So maybe there was a hangover, which was why they started this group so sluggishly. But, when I watched them the other night, those same lads looked rested after a summer off.”
There is an obvious case for some fresh legs to come into the Scotland side but Lambert does not believe captain Scott Brown deserves to miss out, despite his unusually lacklustre contribution in Georgia. That followed on from a similarly ineffective display for Celtic in their Champions League defeat to Malmo the previous week, prompting many to feel the time may be right for Darren Fletcher’s return to the Scotland side tonight.
“Gordon will be the best judge of that,” added Lambert. “Scott has done ever so well for Celtic and Scotland. To be fair to the lad, he’s always out there. He is going to need help around him, you can’t just say Scott is looking tired. Does two games make him bad enough to leave out? I wouldn’t have thought so.”