THE annual Zugspitze Ultra Trail race took place here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen yesterday and the locals turned out in large numbers to clap and cheer the competitors who had yomped around Germany’s highest peak as they crossed the finishing line in the town centre.

A few miles along the road in Stadion am Groben, the mood was far more subdued as the Scotland players returned to training following their 5-1 mauling by the host nation in their Euro 2024 opener in the Allianz Arena the night before.

Andy Robertson and his team mates know they have a mountain to climb if they are to recover from their unceremonious fall from grace in Munich and scale new heights in the coming week by progressing to the knockout rounds of a finals for the first time in their history. 

All is not lost for Scotland. If they can pick up four points from their next two Group A matches against Switzerland in the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne on Wednesday night and then Hungary in the MHPArena in Stuttgart a week today then they will still go through to the last 16.

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Few of the 20,000 or so Tartan Army footsoldiers who witnessed their alarming, error-strewn and toothless display in their opening outing against Julian Nagelsmann’s men in Bavaria will be holding out much hope of them achieving a feat which none of their predecessors ever pulled off at the moment.

There is, however, certainly a determination among the members of the squad, all 26 of who took part in a light session yesterday, to right a few wrongs, rediscover the form they showed in qualification, silence their detractors and give their legions of fans a couple of performances and results to cheer.

(Image: PA) Callum McGregor - the Celtic captain and midfielder who, like so many in a dark blue jersey, failed to attain his usual high standards against Jamal Maisala, Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos – was clearly hurting every bit as much as any supporter as he spoke to the media yesterday.

“You work so hard to get to this level and then you don’t do yourselves justice,” said McGregor. “That is what hurts the most. You can go and you can play well and still lose to Germany. Let’s make no bones about it, they are a top team and they will be there or thereabouts to win the tournament.

 “But when you come off there is a sense that you did not do yourselves justice and you will probably have to live with that forever. People will remember that forever. You are a professional and you understand what has happened.

“I just know from personal experience that any of the disappointments I have had never really go away. You get one opportunity in life and when it comes you want to try and grab it as much as you can. And when you have a disappointing day in your professional life or your personal life or whatever it is, it does stick with you.

“It is important in that in 14 days’ time no one is talking about it and we are through and everyone is talking about the history we have created. As a professional, these things live with you. And like I say, you have one chance and you have to try and take it.  We are the guys who have to live with that disappointment.”

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He continued: “But it is about trying to rectify that. You will never be able to rectify the result because what has happened, has happened. But if you can get yourself out of the group then it diminishes. Then in 10 or 15 years’ time people will say, ‘Yeah, but they got out of the group and they achieved something great’. So that is where the mindset has to be.

“When we get to big tournaments like this Scotland are still relatively unknown in terms of the football world and we and we want to show people we are a good side and we have got good people. Supporters are great and you want to give a good account of the country. That is where it is sore. We are now the only people who can fix that.

“You don’t go into your shell, you don’t back away from the challenge. It is a big stage, it is difficult let’s make no bones about it. You are playing at a big level against some top, top players who are at the height of their game. But you don’t back away from that. You have to now show you are part of that. You belong to play in tournaments like this and you have to show that.

“Strength of character is us now going to perform and staying together and staying strong and giving people the version of Scotland that we want to give them. I don’t think we can shy away from the fact it was a poor night and we did not do ourselves justice. We have to hit the reset the button and go into the next two games and do what we are good at and what has got us to this stage.“Like I say, we want to come to the end of the next two games and everyone is looking at us and going, you know what, Scotland are decent,  Scotland can play a wee bit. We might get through, we might not get through. But we’ve given a good account of ourselves and that is what we can do. It’s only us now that can fix that.” 

McGregor helped Scotland to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic at Hampden in the opening game of the Euro 2020 finals three years ago and, after being paired with Billy Gilmour in central midfield, hold England to a 0-0 draw at Wembley. So he knows it can be done.

“That’s it,” he said. “We have two games to get out of the group now, it is two cup finals. That is what the mentality of the players has to be. That’s where the mentality of the group has to be. Yeah, we attack Wednesday now. As I say, it is a cup final. We have to win.”