14 jun 2024

Germany Aims for Redemption as Hosts of Euro 2024

Germany Aims for Redemption as Hosts of Euro 2024

Germany Aims for Redemption as Hosts of Euro 2024

After three disappointing tournaments, including early exits in the group stages of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Julian Nagelsmann's team faces the challenge of restoring Germany's status among Europe's elite.

Last year's three wins in 11 matches dampened already low expectations, but optimism is growing under Nagelsmann's leadership, with increased support from fans.

This is Germany's first major men's tournament as hosts since the 2006 World Cup, and they hope to recreate the magic that rekindled national team passion after a similar slump.

"It's normal to feel some pressure before a tournament and important games like these," Nagelsmann, 36, said on Thursday. "The players are fired up and hungry for better results than in the last tournaments. We want to use the home advantage."

Germany is expected to top Group A, which includes Hungary and Switzerland, given their talented lineup, from veteran playmaker Toni Kroos to young stars Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala.

Captain Ilkay Gundogan, who played in the last two World Cups and Euro 2020 where Germany exited in the last 16, emphasized the importance of a strong start. "No other game is like the first one," said the Barcelona midfielder. "After this, you can use the momentum and euphoria for the next ones. The most important goal tomorrow is to win the game."

Scottish Fans Descend on Munich

An estimated 150,000 Scots have traveled to Munich for the opening game, hoping to upset the Germans on their home turf.

This is only Scotland's second major tournament since 1998. They returned to the big stage at Euro 2020 but finished bottom of the group, with their only point coming from a 0-0 draw with England.

"We know it's a big game, but 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 Scotland boss Steve Clarke. "It's a difficult game. One of the mantras I've had is respect everyone and fear no one."

Matches against Switzerland and Hungary offer a seemingly easier path to the four points Clarke targets to reach the knockout stages for the first time.

Scotland captain Andy Robertson is confident in his team's potential to advance beyond the group stage. "We know what's at stake. We've got a lot of incentive to do well, including becoming that legendary squad. That has to drive us forward," said the Liverpool defender. "It's important we show up to our maximum, and if we do that, we can create a bit of history... We've waited a long time for this game."

Scottish fans, clad in kilts and carrying bagpipes and beers, have taken over Munich's Marienplatz square. "One of the pubs ran out of beer yesterday," said Ogg, 63, who traveled from Perth, Scotland, with his sons.

Many Scotland supporters, lacking match tickets, made their way to Germany by planes, trains, or an overnight ferry to watch the game in the fan zone.

Across Germany, cities not hosting games have set up viewing areas with big screens and refreshments for the month-long tournament.

In Berlin, the iconic Brandenburg Gate has been transformed into the "largest football goal in the world," with a green-carpeted fan mile leading up to it, set to be filled by tens of thousands for the Scotland clash.

On Saturday, Hungary will face Switzerland in Cologne, while Spain will play Croatia in the opening Group B game in Berlin. Reigning champions Italy will round out the action on day two against Albania in Dortmund.