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Callum McGregor admits Scotland opponents will ‘smell blood’ after opening loss

Callum McGregor is looking to make amends for Scotland’s Euro 2024 opener (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Callum McGregor is looking to make amends for Scotland’s Euro 2024 opener (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Callum McGregor admits Switzerland and Hungary will “smell blood” after watching Scotland get thumped 5-1 by Germany in their Euro 2024 opener in Munich on Friday night.

It was a calamitous 90 minutes for Steve Clarke’s side, who played the second half with 10 men after defender Ryan Porteous was sent off before the break for conceding a penalty with a crunching tackle on the hosts’ captain Ilkay Gundogan, with Kai Havertz netting the resultant penalty to make it 3-0.

The Scotland boss needs to restore battered confidence ahead of the game against the Swiss in Cologne on Wednesday night before they take on Hungary in Stuttgart in their final Group A game.

McGregor showed contrition, humility and determination as well as apologising to the Tartan Army during his media conference at the training base in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

The Celtic captain said: “It is still a bit raw this morning. This is where we have to be strong.

“I am sure everyone will come at us and quite rightly so for a poor performance.

“But we can’t let it derail us and pull us apart and people start going into their little groups.

“It is very much a club environment, you have to stay together, you have to stay strong and ultimately you have to prove people wrong.

“We had a poor performance last night, it was a poor result and people will smell blood, the two teams we are going to play will smell blood so it is now about what you have got inside you, that you want to rectify that and put it right and I am sure the next 48 hours are really important.”

McGregor offered the sheer quality of the hosts as mitigation in part.

Goals from Florian Wirtz and fellow attacker Jamal Musiala came before Porteous saw red.

Substitute Niclas Fullkrug made it 4-0 in the 68th minute with an unstoppable drive and although Germany defender Antonio Rudiger scored into his own net after 87 minutes, substitute Emre Can made it 5-1 with a fine finish.

The Hoops midfielder said:  “They are on a different level to us. We have a lot of growth to go.

“The disappointing aspect was the way it happened, the performance.

“They are a top team and you have to respect the level you are playing against but the sorest thing was everybody had such high expectations and we don’t deliver as a group so we have to take responsibility and hold our hands up and we are the only people who can fix it.

“It is hard to be positive after what happened last night.

“I think everyone has to accept that was a humbling experience but we can’t fall apart and the whole thing turns negative and sour because you are never ever going to get out of it from there.

“It is important that you take the lesson but you get on with it, dust yourself down, look after each other and the objective is still there. If we win the next two games we go through.”

On the thousands of fans who descended on Munich to give Scotland great support inside and outside the stadium, McGregor said: “You feel sorry for them.

“They spend so much money to travel and it leaves a sour taste in the mouth when you wake up this morning and you haven’t done yourself justice, you haven’t done the country justice because when you get to these tournaments you want to show people that we are a good nation, good people, good players.

“So we have to apologise to the fans for not putting on a performance that they would be proud of but in the next two games we will stick together and try to give everybody the objective that we want.”