5 September 2014 16:58
Marco Reus is confident that several retirements have not weakened Germany ahead of their Euro 2016 qualifying opener with Scotland.
Since beating Argentina 1-0 in July’s World Cup final, Germany have seen captain Philipp Lahm, centre-back Per Mertesacker and record goalscorer Miroslav Klose call time on their international careers.
Newly appointed skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger will also miss Sunday’s clash at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park with a knee injury, while Julian Draxler (thigh), Mesut Ozil (ankle) and Sami Khedira (muscle) have all been ruled out and centre-back Mats Hummels (knock) is a doubt.
Dortmund forward Reus is not taking the challenge of Gordon Strachan’s men lightly, but is confident Germany remain a force to be reckoned with despite several familiar faces missing from their squad.
“They [Scotland] have a very strong team that plays at a high level, they are combative and can close the spaces well,” he said.
“Three players are no longer there [for us], Bastian Schweinsteiger is injured but we are still a great team with many good young players.”
Reus – back in the fold after an ankle injury saw him miss the World Cup triumph – may be confident Germany will not be hindered, but head coach Joachim Low believes a lack of inexperience was the reason for the team’s 4-2 defeat to Argentina in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.
In what was a rematch of the World Cup final, Germany found themselves 4-0 down before goals from Andre Schurrle and Mario Gotze restored some pride.
Despite that setback, Low’s men will undoubtedly start as favourites for Sunday’s clash, even though Scotland have shown great improvement since Strachan replaced Craig Levein in January 2013.
Strachan will embark on his first full qualifying campaign on the back of a six-game unbeaten run, hoping to guide Scotland to a major tournament for the first time since 1998.
Graham Dorrans has been playing with an injury in recent weeks and is unavailable for selection, while full-back Andy Robertson and centre-back Christophe Berra are also absent due to injury.
One player who will hope to feature is Barry Bannan. The midfielder has been a regular under Strachan and thanked his international manager for keeping faith in him despite his peripheral role at Crystal Palace last season.
“It’s been brilliant to have Scotland,” Bannan told the Daily Record.
“Whenever the squads are getting announced, you’re always a wee bit worried you’re not going to be involved because that’s normal when you’re not playing for your club.
“But then you get a call-up for your country and it gives you a boost again. It’s brilliant and I have to thank him [Strachan] a lot.”
Strachan has confirmed Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher will reclaim captaincy duties in his first appearance for the national team since October 2012.
Scott Brown, who took the armband when Fletcher was absent with ulcerative colitis, is out with a torn hamstring.