Euro 2024: ‘Kicks and cuddles’ for Scotland after Germany loss

Kicked backsides and a few cuddles were needed in the wake of Scotland‘s demoralising 5-1 defeat by Germany in their opening Euro 2024 game, manager Steve Clarke said on Sunday.

The thrashing by the hosts in Munich means Scotland sit bottom of Group A, although with Switzerland to play on Wednesday, followed by Hungary, there is still hope of making the round of 16.

For that to happen though, Scotland will have to show an enormous improvement as they bid to collect the four points Clarke believes could take them through.

“Kick a couple of backsides, give some cuddles, make the players understand why the Germany result happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Clarke told a news conference.

“I’ve spoken to one or two players around the squad whose opinion I value. I had a good chat with a few of them.

“I had a little chat with a lot of them on the training pitch this morning. Tried to put one or two things in their head about things they maybe didn’t do on the pitch.”

Asked if Ryan Porteous, who was sent off for a rash tackle in the first half against Germany, had needed special treatment, Clarke said: “He was one of my cuddles.

“He is very down, but we’ll pick him back up.”

Scotland have never reached the knockout phase of a major tournament but with third place in the group potentially good enough to progress, all is not lost, although Clarke said Friday night’s result was still not out of their system.

“We’re still tidying up the loose ends of a really bad night,” Clarke said. “There are no excuses when you lose a game 5-1. You have to take all the criticism that comes.

“The good thing for me is that we’ve been in this position before; I’ve always responded pretty well, this group of players have always responded well. So that’s what we try to do.”

With goal difference likely to play a part in the group standings and also deciding the best third-placed teams from the six groups, Clarke knows Scotland’s heavy defeat by Germany has left them with little wiggle room.

“[At the last Euros] we still had an outside chance with the goal difference. This time, that little safety net is gone,” Clarke said. “We know that, so we have to get four points in the next two games.”

Tens of thousands of Scotland fans are expected to be in Cologne for Wednesday’s game against Switzerland who impressed in their 3-1 victory over Hungary on Saturday.