The term ‘full kit wanker’ is common place among football fans, as I write this there is a mirth inducing emoji of a bum-bag toting Celtic ‘Full Bumble Kit Wanker’ doing the rounds on social media. When it comes to Scotland however there is a football faux pas far greater than the full kit wanker; they say that purple is the colour of confusion, but for any fully fledged Tartan Army member it is surely claret.
Even now, eight years on, you can still spot these Claret Where’s Wallys, and, like a Scotland fan in the Uruguay end, once you’ve spotted them you can’t take your eyes off them. Really though, why? Yes you spent your money, yes they only wore it once, and yes you’re entitled to wear it, you paid for it after all, but it’s been eight years, it’s time for that particular Scotland top to become a car shammy. The claret top’s only outing was of course on that fateful last plane to Georgia in 2007, it is – for me at least – the ultimate symbol of Scottish football failure – and that is really saying something.
The Georgia team sheet may strike fear in the hearts of some environmentalists – that is a lot of paper – but for Scotland it should be no cause for consternation. Gordon Strachan’s men are unbeaten since their opening game away in Germany, with the exception of an injured Armstrong and Hanley and Morrison on yellow cards there are few injury or suspension concerns, and they are nestled nicely behind Germany and Poland who play each other on the same night. A win will undoubtedly go a long way toward qualification.
Parallels with the same fixture back in 2007 are easy to make. On that day Scotland lost two nil after being denied two clear penalties thanks to a Knut: Knut Kircher, the German referee. Scotland went into the game looking for seven competitive wins on the trot off the back of an incredible win in Paris that was the highlight of Alex McLeish’s reign as Scotland boss, a reign that started with a 2-1 win over Georgia at Hampden. This Scotland team is of course in a similar position, as are Georgia. With the qualification campaign nearing its completion Georgia again find themselves languishing at the bottom with little to play for, just as they did eight years ago. Without a win in six competitive home matches and with only have one goal to their name, new coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze – ‘rock the Kakhaber, rock the Kakhaber, Tskhadadze don’t liiiiiiike it’- will be looking to record his first win against Scotland.
Of course all of this sets us up perfectly for a Scotland defeat. That party in the Algarve really does hinge on the exploits of Strachan’s men on Friday night. A tight game with a deflected winner last October at Ibrox and a McGeady last minute wonder-winner for the Irish a year ago is enough to attest to the fact this is no easy outing for Scotland. But of course the wound that smarts the most is the one that still oozes claret. Craig Gordon, Darren Fletcher, and Shaun Maloney, who all played in that game, will know more than most the pitfalls of an away game in Tbilisi.
Scotland are back in their more comfortable position as underdogs on Monday night when they complete their battle against the G’s in Group D with a home match against Germany. The World Champions may have conquered all in Brazil but can they do it on an… err… Monday night in Glasgow. This Monday night football may be lacking Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher arguing over who has/is the biggest dick, but it promises to be entertaining nonetheless
The Mertesacker, Klose, and – most significantly – Lahm-less Germany have yet to reach the dizzying levels of performance shown in Brazil. Having been beaten by Poland, dropping points against Ireland, and a rather tepid 2-0 victory against Georgia there is, remarkably, a bit of pressure on the German team going into two uncomfortable games against Poland and Scotland. Despite this they will most likely come out of the penultimate round of fixtures top of the group and still the bookies favourites to win the competition – unless of course Wales jump another nine places in the FIFA World Rankings
The last time Scotland played the World Champions at Hampden it was a memorising affair conducted in a pulsating, throbbing atmosphere. When Spain raced to a two goal lead courtesy of goals from Andres Iniesta and a David Villa penalty the Tartan Army got to enjoy thirteen glorious minutes of what would have been a memorable comeback thanks to Steven Naismith’s first goal for his country and a Gerrard Pique own goal. Fernando Llorente put paid to that short lived dream when he netted the winner from point blank range, this Scotland team however are far superior to Craig Levein’s charges in 2010, and who’s to say they can’t go one step further this time around and beat the World Champions?
Whether such a feat can be achieved depends a lot on what happens on Friday night. Defeat to Georgia will undoubtedly dampen the spirts for the visit of Germany on Monday night. Such negativity is misplaced in this Scotland team, there is of course a lot to be optimistic about. If Strachan and his men can win against Georgia on Friday night they will cast off the demons of 2007 and go into Monday’s game full of vigour with nothing to lose. It’s been five years since World Champions have visited Scotland and in that time we have climbed the World Rankings, are more tactically astute, more adventurous, confident, and have played ourselves into a fantastic position to qualify from a difficult group
This week’s game in Tbilisi could really be make-or-break for Scotland. A blue Monday I can live with, a claret Friday however would be a disaster