Germany Speeds Past Scotland

Germany Speeds Past Scotland

Four Scotsmen walked down Bayerstrasse, alongside the city’s main train station, on Friday morning. Something about them stood out amid the tens of thousands of Tartan Army fans who had descended on Munich for the opening game of Euro 2024 against Germany.

Each wore a Tartan flat cap and each wore a kilt but each also wore a Germany shirt. Three of them were blank. One bore the name of Florian Wirtz, the precocious Germany midfielder. It felt like a lovely gesture of camaraderie at the start of a major tournament.

Marienplatz was a riot of blue and white. The U6 underground line to the Allianz Arena echoed to one song. ‘We’ve got McGinn, Super John McGinn, I just don’t think you understand, he’s Unai Emery’s man, he’s better than Zidane, we’ve got super John McGinn.’

In the stadium, the way the massed ranks of the travelling support sang Flower of Scotland made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. The emotion was fierce. On the occasion of their first appearance at a major tournament outside the UK since 1998, everything was going simply beautifully for Scotland.

Then the football started.

Scotland handed their rivals the biggest opening win at a European Championship in history

Host nation Germany started their Euro 2024 in barnstorming style in Munich on Friday night

Host nation Germany started their Euro 2024 in barnstorming style in Munich on Friday night

Then the romance flew away. Then the idea that Scotland could spring a shock was exposed as pure delusion. Then the idea that Julian Nagelsmann’s side might be cowed by the pressure of playing in front of their own fans looked like extravagant wishful thinking.

Scotland were swept aside from the first minute. Germany pulverised them. They eviscerated them. They outclassed them. Scotland may not have been the best litmus test but the evidence of this performance suggested Germany are strong contenders to win their first European Championships since Euro 96.

England’s players may have watched this match from their base a couple of hundred miles to the north with a degree of trepidation. Germany’s front four – Jamal Musiala, Ilkay Gundogan, Wirtz and Kai Havertz – played with a breathtaking fluency that has been beyond England recently.

Wirtz and Musiala, in particular, were unplayable in this 5-1 romp. Toni Kroos, fresh from closing out his club career with Real Madrid by winning the Champions League, was simply regal. Antonio Rudiger and Jonathan Tah were solid and authoritative at the heart of their defence. Not that they had much to do.

Jamal Musiala was an electric presence and netted Germany's second on a sparkling evening

Jamal Musiala was an electric presence and netted Germany’s second on a sparkling evening

Ryan Porteous flew into a crunching tackle on captain Ilkay Gundogan, conceding a penalty

Ryan Porteous flew into a crunching tackle on captain Ilkay Gundogan, conceding a penalty

During the prolonged break in play, Gundogan and Porteous were tended to on the pitch

During the prolonged break in play, Gundogan and Porteous were tended to on the pitch

Kai Havertz picked up the third in the 46th minute played as Scotland capitulated in Munich

Kai Havertz picked up the third in the 46th minute played as Scotland capitulated in Munich

The Scots are left to lick their wounds. They were reduced to ten men just before half time but they were already well beaten by then. 

Germany 5-1 Scotland: MATCH FACTS 

Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer, Rudiger, Tah, Kimmich, Havertz (Fullkrug), Kroos (Can), Musiala (Muller), Wirtz (Sane), Mittelstadt, Gundogan, Andrich

Subs not used: Baumann, Ter-Stegen, Henrichs, Raum, Koch, Anton, Schlotterbeck, Gross, Fuhrich, Undav, Beier

Goals: Wirtz (10′), Musiala (19′), Havertz (45+1′), Fullkrug (68′), Can (90+3′)

Booked: Andrich, Tah

Manager: Julian Nagelsmann

Scotland (5-4-1): Gunn, Ralston, Porteous, Hendry, Tierney (McKenna), Robertson, McTominay, Christie (Shankland), McGregor (Gilmour), McGinn (McLean), Adams (Hanley)

Subs not used: Clark, Kelly, Cooper, Taylor, McCrorie, Armstrong, Forrest, Jack, Morgan, Conway

Goals: Rudiger OG (87′) 

Booked: Porteous (red), Ralston

Manager: Steve Clark

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Their goal here is to try to qualify from the group for the first time in their history. They will have to regroup fast for their remaining games against Switzerland and Hungary.

Germany swarmed all over their visitors from the start. Scotland won a few physical challenges but Germany looked slick and assured right from kick-off. There was no sign of the nerves that often come with being hosts. They went about the game with relish.

Scotland held out for 10 minutes. By then Kroos, playing his last clutch of games before he brings his glittering career to an end, had already started to use the game as his canvas, spraying pinpoint passes the width of the pitch.

Soon, those prompts paid off. Kroos drilled another pass out wide to Joshua Kimmich on the right and when Kimmich played the ball across the face of the area, it was met by Wirtz, who hit a fierce low drive to Angus Gunn’s right.

Gunn got his right hand to it and for a split second, it seemed he had kept it out when the ball rolled against the post. But it hit the post and bounced over the line and the stadium roared in exultation and the Scots fell silent for the first time.

Germany were irresistible. Talk about hitting the ground running. This was more like a Porsche going from nought to 60 in a few seconds. They accelerated away from Scotland and left them in the rear-view mirror.

They were finding so much space between the Scotland lines, it was embarrassing. Scotland’s play, sadly, looked positively primitive next to the elegance of the Germans. Too many Scotland passes went straight to white shirts.

Wirtz has fewer than 20 caps but has stepped up after a miraculous season in the Bundesliga

Wirtz has fewer than 20 caps but has stepped up after a miraculous season in the Bundesliga

Robert Andrich picked up the tournament's first booking thanks to a crunching challenge on Scott McTominay

Robert Andrich picked up the tournament’s first booking thanks to a crunching challenge on Scott McTominay

The Man United player faltered as Scotland failed to get off the ground in their opener

The Man United player faltered as Scotland failed to get off the ground in their opener

Niclas Fullkrug unleashed a scarcely believable flyer to hand the Germans their fourth goal

Niclas Fullkrug unleashed a scarcely believable flyer to hand the Germans their fourth goal

Scotland were able to nab a cold consolation when Antonio Rudiger headed the ball goalwards

Scotland were able to nab a cold consolation when Antonio Rudiger headed the ball goalwards

Emre Can was the second Germany substitute to find the back of the net in the nick of time

Emre Can was the second Germany substitute to find the back of the net in the nick of time

Angus Gunn stretched but was hopeless in the face of the pin-sharp accurate shot from Can - who only linked up with the Germany set-up on Thursday

Angus Gunn stretched but was hopeless in the face of the pin-sharp accurate shot from Can – who only linked up with the Germany set-up on Thursday

After 19 minutes, Germany scored again. Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz combined beautifully to find Musiala in the box and when Musiala deceived his marker by dropping his shoulder and letting the ball run on to him, he bought himself enough time to take a touch and lash the ball high into the roof of the net.

There was no respite for the Scots. The referee awarded Germany a penalty for a Kieran Tierney trip on Musiala but VAR commuted it to a free kick on the edge of the area. Gunn clutched Havertz’s free kick gratefully.

But they could not stop Germany going further ahead on the stroke of half time. Gunn saved superbly to keep out a header but in the melee that followed, Ryan Porteous lunged at Gundogan with a double-footed tackle that buckled Gundogan’s ankle.

VAR reviewed the challenge and the referee awarded the inevitable penalty. Porteous was sent off, Havertz slammed the kick into the back of the net and the game was over. All that remained was for Scotland to try to salvage some dignity.

The hosts enjoyed a pitch-perfect start at the first major tournament on home soil since 2006

The hosts enjoyed a pitch-perfect start at the first major tournament on home soil since 2006

Andy Robertson cut a desolate figure on a woeful evening for the Tartan Army in Germany

Andy Robertson cut a desolate figure on a woeful evening for the Tartan Army in Germany

Fans were dismayed that their national team could have possibly recorded such a sticky start

Fans were dismayed that their national team could have possibly recorded such a sticky start

Scotland have just a handful of days to dust themselves before facing next rivals Switzerland

Scotland have just a handful of days to dust themselves before facing next rivals Switzerland

Germany went through the motions a little after the break but midway through the half, they got an inevitable fourth. When the ball reached substitute Niclas Fullkrug on the edge of the box, it sat up for him and he smashed a stunning half-volley high past the despairing left hand of Gunn and into the roof of the net.

Germany turned the game into a festival. Nagelsmann introduced everyone’s favourite Germany player, Thomas Muller, into the fray to deafening cheers from the home fans. By now, it had become like a training exercise for the Germans, too. Kroos had misplaced just one of his 85 passes.

Scotland did spoil their perfect night with a consolation goal three minutes from the end when Rudiger inadvertently headed past Neuer. It gave the Scots something to cling on to but then Germany scored a fifth through substitute Emre Can in added time just to rub it in.

It is a lot more difficult to bet against Germany being in the final in Berlin next month than it was when those four Scots walked down Bayerstrasse in their homage to the hosts.

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