Berliner Tageblatt - Germany in early goal rush as Euro 2024 kicks off

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Germany in early goal rush as Euro 2024 kicks off
Germany in early goal rush as Euro 2024 kicks off / Photo: © AFP

Germany in early goal rush as Euro 2024 kicks off

Hosts Germany scored two early goals against Scotland after kicking off Euro 2024 on Friday at the start of a journey the three-time continental champions hope will conclude with victory in the final in Berlin on July 14.

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After three dismal tournaments in a row -- including going out in the group stage at the 2018 and 2022 World Cups -- Julian Nagelsmann's side take on the challenge of putting Germany back among Europe's heavyweights.

Three wins in 11 matches last year reduced already low expectations, but under Nagelsmann the outlook has gradually improved, and there is increased optimism from supporters as well.

Florian Wirtz, one of the emerging young stars in the German lineup, scored the first goal of the tournament with a low sidefooted shot that went in off the post in the 10th minute.

Jamal Musiala added a second goal nine minutes later.

It is Germany's first men's major tournament as hosts since the 2006 World Cup, and they are looking to recreate the magic that helped rekindle the passion for the national team after a similar spell in the doldrums.

"The players are fired up, they want it, they are hungry for better results than in the last tournaments," 36-year-old Nagelsmann said on Thursday.

"I want the country to spur us on, we want to use the home advantage," Nagelsmann added.

Germany will be fancied to top Group A, which also features Hungary and Switzerland, given the quality at their disposal, from veteran playmaker Toni Kroos to younger stars like Wirtz and Musiala, who all started.

- Scots travel in numbers -

Some 60,000 Scottish fans were expected in Munich around the opening fixture, according to local officials, and although all did not have tickets, thousands of them turned a section of the Allianz Arena into a sea of tartan.

It is just Scotland's second major tournament since 1998. They returned to the big stage at Euro 2020 but finished bottom of the group.

"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 Scotland boss Steve Clarke.

"It's a difficult game. One of the mantras I've had is respect everyone and fear no one."

Clashes against Switzerland and Hungary up next would appear to offer an easier path to the four points Clarke is targeting to qualify for the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time.

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

"We know that's what's at stake. We've got a lot of incentive to do well but one is 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."

With kilts, bagpipes and beers in hand, Scots took over the central Marienplatz square, Munich's cultural heart.

"There was one of the pubs ran out of beer yesterday," said Stuart Ogg, 63, who made the journey from Perth in Scotland with his sons.

Across Germany even cities not hosting games have set up viewing areas with big screens and refreshments readily available for the month of football to follow.

In Berlin, the country's capital, the iconic Brandenburg Gate has been turned into the "largest football goal in the world", according to organisers, with a green-carpeted fan mile to be filled by tens of thousands for the Scotland clash.

On Saturday, Hungary take on Switzerland in Cologne in the other match in the section before Spain play Croatia in the opening Group B game in Berlin.

Reigning champions Italy round out the action on day two against Albania in Dortmund.

N.Fournier--BTB