German nerves as Tartan Army arrive in Munich to kick off Euro 2024 party

June 14 – Amidst tight security, Euro 2024 kicks off tonight in Munich with the host nation desperate to rekindle past glories  after  three straight embarrassing exits.

Germany, who face Scotland in the opening game, went out in the group stage at the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and lost in the last 16 of the last Euros but under Julian Nagelsmann there is increased optimism in what is their first men’s major tournament as hosts since the 2006 World Cup.

Nagelsmann admits there is an air of nervous expectation.

“I think it’s normal that you feel a little bit of pressure before a tournament and before important games like these,” the 36-year-old said on Thursday.

“The players are fired up, they want it, they are hungry for better results than in the last tournaments. I want the country to spur us on, we want to use the home advantage.”

Germany will be fancied to top Group A, which also features Hungary and Switzerland.

On the eve of the opening game, however, Munich became a virtual home from home for the Tartan Army as thousands of Scottish fans poured into the city to try and cheer their team on to what would be a famous upset.

Skipper Ilkay Gundogan, who played in all of Germany’s last three tournaments, said it was essential to get off to a winning start.

“No other game is like the first one,” said the Barcelona and former Manchester City midfielder. “After this you can use the momentum and euphoria for the next ones. That’s why the most important goal tomorrow is to win the game.”

As for Scotland, it is only their second major finals since 1998. “We know it’s a big game, but for us it’s the opening game of a four-team section, three matches, we know what we have to do to qualify and that’s all we focus on,” said boss Steve Clarke. “It’s a difficult game. One of the mantras I’ve had is respect everyone and fear no one.”

Scotland showed during the qualifying campaign they can cause a shock upset when they beat Spain. However, they have won only one of their last 13 matches against Germany and that was more than 25 years ago. Even a draw tonight, though, would represent a major achievement.

Scotland captain Andy Robertson believes his side have what it takes to get beyond the group stage.

“We know what’s at stake. It’s important we show up to our maximum and if we do that we can create a bit of history,” said the Liverpool man and one of his country’s major assets.

“We’ve waited a long time for this game. We’re all really excited. There’s no real pressure on us, no real expectation from the outside world.”

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