Germany fans dreaming after 'perfect night'

Germany made an ideal start to their home European Championship as a 5-1 demolition of Scotland got fans dreaming again.

Euro 2024 expectations had been low despite the three-time European champions, one of football's long-time powerhouses, hosting the tournament.

But Germany were hugely impressive against, admittedly, a painfully poor Scotland - and recorded their biggest Euros win ever.

Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala and a Kai Havertz penalty gave Julian Nagelsmann's side a 3-0 half-time lead, with Ryan Porteous dismissed for Scotland following a reckless challenge.

With the game practically won, Germany eased up before Niclas Fullkrug hammered in a fourth – and had a fifth disallowed.

Antonio Rudiger's own goal gave the Scots something to cheer about for a few moments before Emre Can made it 5-1 with the final kick of the game.

"You have to credit Germany for their performance. They were under pressure coming into the tournament," said ex-Celtic striker Chris Sutton, who was at the Allianz Arena for BBC Radio 5 Live.

"They smothered Scotland and blew them away in the first half. They took their foot off the gas in the second half. It could have been a far bigger margin than 5-1."

Former Scotland winger Pat Nevin added that Germany looked like potential champions.

"There were little bits that reminded me of Manchester City," he said. "The way they pressed really high and you must be able to play through them.

"I also loved the intelligence of Julian Nagelsmann who saw where Scotland's weaknesses were and absolutely punishes them and destroys them."

Nagelsmann said of his team's victory: "I'm happy. It's not easy to have the first game in our own country.

"We were brilliant in the first 20 minutes. It's a good sign that our players complained about conceding."

Why was there pessimism beforehand?

Bernard Dietz and Jurgen Klinsmann, alongside Franz Beckenbauer's widow Heidi, bring out the European Championship trophy
Before the game, Germany's two living European Championship-winning captains Bernard Dietz (1980) and Jurgen Klinsmann (1996) brought out the trophy with Franz Beckenbauer's widow Heidi. German legend Beckenbauer, the winning captain in 1972, died in January at the age of 78. [Getty Images]

Germany have lived through footballing nightmares in recent major tournaments – going out in the group stage in the last two World Cups and the last 16 to England at Euro 2020.

This was Germany's first competitive game in 18 months since their 2022 World Cup early exit.

As Euro 2024 hosts they did not need to qualify, so they played 15 friendlies instead. They won six and lost six of those.

After a 4-1 defeat by Japan in September, Hansi Flick was sacked and replaced by Nagelsmann. Former Bayern boss Nagelsmann won four of his eight friendlies in charge, but did lose to Turkey and Austria in the space of four days in November.

Ex-Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger, a BBC pundit this summer, said ahead of the big kick-off: "All the talk and anticipation in Germany is about the possibility of a second 'summer fairytale', or 'Sommermarchen', which is what the World Cup became known as when we hosted it in 2006.

"Every football fan in Germany wants to have a good summer together, but they need a team that the fans can identify with."

The connection is back.

Archie Rhind-Tutt, a German football expert, said on BBC Radio 5 Live: "Overall for Julian Nagelsmann, a perfect night. Germans are unbelievably critical when it comes to their team.

"They will be very happy and relieved because don't forget they lost their first game in their last three tournaments. They really needed that to lift off."

'You can see the Kaka in Musiala'

"It was a perfect start for Germany," said former Scotland striker Ally McCoist on ITV. "They have been excellent with some superb performances. You can feel something growing with Germany."

Some of the pre-tournament concerns had been about Germany's striking options – or lack thereof.

Would they go with Havertz, the false nine from Arsenal, or Fullkrug – the imposing old-school striker from Borussia Dortmund?

Ex-Germany midfielder Steffen Freund told BBC Sport in the build-up to the tournament: "Since Miroslav Klose we don't have a world-class striker so that's why maybe we're not top in the world."

But Freund added: "It's good for Germany to have two strikers with a different style of football."

And Germany looked good here with both.

Havertz was flanked by 21-year-old sensations Musiala and Wirtz – who both got on the scoresheet in the opening 19 minutes.

Germany are the first nation in European Championship history to have two players aged 21 or younger score in the same match.

Fullkrug came on for Havertz after the hour mark and thumped a fantastic effort into the top corner before being denied another goal by the video assistant referee for offside.

"There are some nice headaches that Julian Nagelsmann has in terms of Fullkrug coming on," said Sutton.

"It's a perfect evening for the German team. To get up and running in a tournament like this, their confidence will go through the roof. The German fans will start fancying the team, but you have to chuck into that equation just how bad Scotland were."

Musiala really caught the eye and the Bayern Munich player, dazzling at his home ground, left the pitch to a standing ovation in the second half.

The 21-year-old, who represented England at youth level having spent much of his childhood in the country, had five successful dribbles. No other Germany player managed one.

"Ronaldinho is Musiala's hero," said ex-England striker Ian Wright on ITV. "You can see the resemblance with Kaka in him. There is a lot more to see with Musiala and Wirtz. Coming up against better teams we might even see more from them."

The atmosphere in Germany

Fans watch the game in Munich's fan park
Thousands of fans watched in Munich's fan park [Getty Images]

BBC Sport's Gary Rose:

In Hamburg, which has one of the biggest fan zones at Euro 2024 with a capacity for 40,000 people, German supporters understandably heavily outweighed Scotland supporters, with the city more than 500 miles away from where the game was taking place.

It was a friendly atmosphere throughout between two sets of supporters who were not expecting too much from their respective sides, but who were determined to enjoy themselves nevertheless.

However, Germany's display surprised those fans we spoke to.

"We didn't expect this," Andreas said. "Germany have not been great in the recent past so we thought it would be closer."

Both Andreas and his friend Felix are expecting Florian Wirtz to be a star at the tournament, but were guarded on just how far they think Germany will go.

Leaving the fan zone, Germany fans were chanting and car horns were blaring.

Prior to the game there wasn't much buzz around the city for the tournament but this emphatic win might just have changed that.

BBC Sport’s Emma Sanders:

There were several fan parks across Stuttgart showing the game. But one small bar with around 12 seats had three large screens with the game on. People came in with German flags wrapped around their shoulders and peered through the windows from the outside.

Before kick-off they cheered at the sight of the trophy. Mikel, the bar owner, offered free drinks to regular customers after Germany's second goal. One man in the corner stood up and chanted Musiala's name.

After the third goal, everyone cheered and huddled together outside. More fans started coming in and buying beer from the fridge. One of the workers, a Hoffenheim fan, said they showed football "all the time" and that in a tournament "you cannot know what happens", but they are confident Germany will do well.