| Much depends on Michael Ballack
Berlin: Germany have to beat Scotland in their Euro 2004 Group Five qualifier on Wednesday to boost their chances of making next year’s finals and ensure Rudi Voeller does not lose his temper again.
The Germany coach has been front-page news in the soccer-mad nation since his outburst on public television after Saturday’s dismal 0-0 draw with Iceland in Reykjavik.
The normally mild-mannered Voeller described the television commentators’ analysis of the game as “a load of crap” in an expletive-filled attack on his media critics.
His players understood that the coach had wanted to protect them and promised to pay him back with a spirited display against Scotland in Dortmund.
“The players considered Rudi Voeller’s reaction as totally positive,” said Bayern Munich defender Tobias Rau, who was suspended for the Iceland game but should play on Wednesday. “The way he defended us was great. Now we know what we have to do.”
Germany occupy second place in Group Five on 12 points after six games, a point ahead of Scotland. Iceland lead the standings with 13 points from seven games but three-times world and European champions Germany will knock them off the top if they beat the Scots.
Voeller has a midfield problem with both Jens Jeremies and Sebastian Deisler injured. Much will depend on playmaker Michael Ballack, who was far below his brilliant best in Reykjavik but can turn a match around when on song.
Scotland were boosted by their 3-1 win over the Faroe Islands on Saturday and their German coach Berti Vogts sounded confident before the trip to his homeland.
Vogts is likely to be without West Ham United forward Don Hutchison — who scored Scotland’s winner in a 1-0 friendly victory against Germany in Bremen four years ago — after a calf problem forced him out of training on Monday. “I’d say he has less than a 50-50 chance but I am still confident about the outcome of this game in Germany,” he said before flying out to Dortmund.
Celtic and Scotland captain Paul Lambert is expected to recover from an ankle injury and take his place in midfield as he returns to the home of his old club Borussia Dortmund.
West Ham United’s Christian Dailly and Hearts captain Steven Pressley also return from suspension. Dunfermline Athletic forward Steve Crawford is suspended and Rangers’ robust striker Steven Thompson is expected to start as lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation. (reuters)