Fighting spirit has often proved match for dominant world power

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The Independent Online

Politics, perms and packed houses. Tall, strutting blonds and combustible wee redheads. Scotland and Germany may not share quite the football history that they have with England, but matches between them augur well for a compelling encounter at Hampden Park today.

Politics, perms and packed houses. Tall, strutting blonds and combustible wee redheads. Scotland and Germany may not share quite the football history that they have with England, but matches between them augur well for a compelling encounter at Hampden Park today.

Although the picture is confused by the post-war separation of West and East Germany, and their reunification some four decades later, Scotland have fared well enough during the 67 years of games not to be overawed by their illustrious visitors, who did not beat them until 1969.

War was just three years away when the countries staged their inaugural friendly at Ibrox. Scotland won 2-0 against the all-amateur Germans, who lined up to give the Nazi salute before and after the game, and were reportedly warmly applauded by the 50,000 crowd.

When they next met in 1957, before 80,000 in Stuttgart, West Germany were world champions. Undaunted, Tommy Docherty led Scotland to a 3-1 win. Two years later, with 103,415 inside Hampden, they scored twice in the first six minutes and won 3-2.

The next two confrontations highlight the need to keep fighting. At Hanover in 1964 a Scotland side featuring Denis Law, Jim Baxter and Billy McNeill trailed to two goals by Uwe Seeler until Alan Gilzean stunned 75,000 spectators twice in the last 19 minutes.

In 1969, a World Cup qualifier drew 96,000 to Hampden. A West German team including survivors of Wembley and 1966 such as Franz Beckenbauer and Helmut Haller led through Gerd Müller after 39 minutes until Bobby Murdoch equalised with two minutes left.

The Germans finally prevailed in the return group fixture, watched by 72,000 in Hamburg, but it was a close-run thing. Scotland led in three minutes, when Jimmy Johnstone escaped a certain Hans-Hubert Vogts to score. It was 2-2 before Reinhard Libuda secured a late winner.

The spell broken, West Germany won 2-1 before 62,000 at Frankfurt in 1974, with Vogts again playing in a side soon to win the World Cup. At the same event in Mexico 12 years later, Gordon Strachan scored early before the bubble-haired Rudi Völler, now Germany's coach, swiftly replied and Klaus Allofs collected the winner.

Gallant failure was Scotland's lot once more in at Euro 92 in Sweden. One of the best displays of Andy Roxburgh's reign went unrewarded as Karl-Heinz Reidle and Stefan Effenberg scored for the newly "united" world champions. Reidle also hit the only goal in another Ibrox friendly 10 years ago. On each occasion, Vogts was the victorious coach.

He resigned soon after a wretched France 98 and Erich Ribbeck was in charge when Craig Brown took a patched-up Scotland squad to Bremen for a 1999 friendly. Germany were in transition, with Lothar Matthäus in his 40th year and Michael Ballack appearing as substitute. Yet they were still European champions, making Don Hutchison's winner all the sweeter.

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