Kroos pep talk calms Germany before record win


Julian Nagelsmann said Toni Kroos delivered a “really powerful” pep talk to the Germany team before the Euro 2024 hosts posted a record 5-1 victory against Scotland in the opening game of the tournament in Munich.

Goals from Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz, Niclas Füllkrug and Emre Can enabled the Germans to claim the biggest-ever opening game win at a European Championship.

Scotland, meanwhile, failed to register a shot on target and scored with an Antonio Rüdiger own goal.

The win puts Nagelsmann’s team in control of Group A ahead of fixtures against Hungary and Switzerland. But with Musiala and Wirtz, both 21, carrying the pressure of a young team in the tournament, the Germany coach paid tribute to 34-year-old Kroos, who will retire at the end of the competition, for helping calm the players down before the game.

“He is very important, just like everyone else,” Nagelsmann said in his news conference of Kroos, who completed 101 of his 102 passes before being substituted in the 80th minute. “He’s very experienced and calm.

“The team were really loud [before the game] and he said a few quiet words that were really powerful.

“He is part of the group, but that experience is what makes him different. With his record, some would have problems being accepted, but he is not arrogant, he is very important for the team and a pole of calmness.

“But despite all of his successes and status, we see him as part of the group.”

The performance of Musiala and Wirtz created the early headlines in Germany, however, and Nagelsmann was keen to play down the hype building up around the two attacking players.

“I don’t want to talk about singling out players,” he said. “It’s super interesting to see how our players became internationals. They had different paths, unique paths, but what unites us is that we are part of a group and this group has learned to protect every member of the group and make all around them look good.

“So I don’t want to talk about individuals. The team, the group won the game, and I hope the country now believes in us even more than before.”

Scotland made a nightmare start to their Group A campaign, conceding five goals in a game for the first time since a 5-1 defeat against the United States in 2012. Their task was made even harder when defender Ryan Porteous was sent off for a foul on Ílkay Gündogan, which also led to a penalty, shortly before half-time.

But manager Steve Clarke urged the Scottish supporters to “keep the faith” despite the dismal performance and result.

“We didn’t play to our standard, but I thought the German team were excellent,” Clarke said.

“We’re disappointed, we let ourselves down and we’re better than that. A better team than that. But we need four points from next two games and that’s what we’re focusing on now.

“I’ve had tough nights and I’ll get over it. I’ve never doubted my players. Never ever.

“Keep the faith, see you at the next game.”

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