The gasps that greeted the placing of Germany with Scotland in Group Five owed everything to the probable arrival of one Hans-Hubert Vogts as the Scots' manager in succession to Craig Brown.
For "Wee Berti", as the Tartan Army will doubtless dub Vogts should his departure from Kuwait be confirmed, is one of German football's major figures. He won 96 caps, leading West Germany to World Cup triumph in 1974, and had eight years in charge of the unified German national side. His resignation followed a disastrous France 98, with Bild's front-page headline screaming: "Berti, how much longer?"
Despite winning Euro 96, Vogts is perceived in his country as a failure. Six months after his demise, a side containing Lothar Matthäus, Dietmar Hamann and Oliver Bierhoff lost 1-0 to Scotland in Bremen, Don Hutchison firing a deserved winner. England's 5-1 rout of Rudi Völler's side in Munich last September underlined the Germans' fall from grace.
If Germany will be favourites to qualify automatically, Scotland's chief rivals for the runners-up spot are likely to be Iceland, who narrowly failed to reach Euro 2000. Players such as Eidur Gudjohnsen (Chelsea), Hermann Hreidarsson (Ipswich) and their Stoke City enclave make them superior to the Iceland team beaten twice by a Scottish side including Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Gordon Strachan en route to Mexico 86.
Unusually, Scotland cannot play the "small nation" card that traditionally informs their approach, Germany being their only more populous opponents. They faced Lithuania and the Faroe Islands during qualifying for Euro 2000, drawing away with both and beating them at home. The barren game on a bumpy pitch in Vilnius was a peculiarly grim stalemate. In the whaling outpost of the Faroes, Matt Elliott was sent off for striking an opponent and the islanders scored a late equaliser.Reuse content