By Ken Martin & Manfred Christoph
With group leaders Iceland not in action, both Scotland and Germany could be top of Group 5 on Wednesday night as they lock horns in their UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying game in Dortmund.
Scotland midfield player Paul Devlin insists that, having won 3-1 against the Faroe Islands at Hampden Park on Saturday, his side are ready to face the biggest challenge of their campaign as they bid for a place in Portugal next summer.
"We showed at Hampden Park in June that we could compete against the big teams and we were unlucky not to have beaten the Germans [in a 1-1 draw] that day," he told uefa.com. "It's hard to contain a side like Germany but Berti Vogts has got us well-organised.
To get a draw in Germany would be a great result, but we won't be shy of going out there and pushing for a win."
Everton FC new boy James McFadden may have taken Devlin's place in the starting lineup after replacing him after 58 minutes against the Faroese and scoring his side's third goal. In addition, Vogts hopes to be able to count on the services of fomer BV Borussia Dortmund player Paul Lambert and West Ham United FC defender Christian Dailly, who both missed Saturday's win.
Pressure and nerves
The Scots are hoping that a combination of pressure and nerves will affect the home side. "We know that there is a lot of pressure on the Germans to beat us and hopefully that will play into our hands," Devlin said. "Having said that, we know we're underdogs and we know that we'll have to be at our best to get a result."
Germany are desperate to prove their detractors wrong after a wobbly run of form in recent qualifiers. Their recent 2-0 win in the Faroe Islands was moderately embarrassing and the 0-0 draw in Iceland on Saturday was greeted in some quarters as a national catastrophe.
Criticism of Saturday's performance brought a furious reaction from coach Rudi Völler who turned the air blue in a tirade against German television pundits following the game. "We played away against the group leaders," he fumed. "Are we supposed to come here and hammer them easily? Such rubbish!"
'We played terribly'
The usually placid Völler has remained unrepentant about his outburst. "I won't change," said the coach. "
I will continue to protect the team, but with all this protecting we mustn't forget that we played terribly. The second half against Iceland was not acceptable. I hope the team feel they owe me something."
Völler's choice of players will be limited by injuries; he also has no fewer than eight players one yellow card away from missing the home match against Iceland next month. Jens Jeremies has pulled out of the squad with knee problems and a torn thigh muscle saw Sebastian Deisler join him on the sidelines on Monday. Defensive midfield player Carsten Ramelow is doubtful and Oliver Neuville has been ruled out with a back problem.
'I expect a win'
Nonetheless, Völler is focused on victory, as Germany aim to bolster their pride and take a decisive lead at the top of the table ahead of that final game at home against Iceland. "We are the favourites and I expect a win," the coach said. "It is true we don't have to win, but we want to."
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the Faroe Islands will play the final game of their campaign against Lithuania in Torshavn.
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