Soccer-Tartan Army, and Switzerland, expecting Scotland backlash

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group A - Hungary v Switzerland - Cologne Stadium, Cologne, Germany - June 15, 2024 Switzerland players celebrate after the match REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of kilt-wearing Scotland fans will take part in a pre-match march to Cologne Stadium ahead of Wednesday's clash with Switzerland and they will expect to be rewarded with a vast improvement from Steve Clarke's team.

The Tartan Army were also present in massive numbers in Munich last Friday but were left drowning their sorrows as an abject Scotland were thrashed 5-1 by rampant hosts Germany.

Even Germany's players and those of next opponents Switzerland were surprised at the flimsy Scotland showing and Clarke admits he has had to kick some backsides and offer some cuddles in the aftermath of the drubbing.

Switzerland, on the other hand, defied some negativity heading into the tournament to start with an impressive 3-1 victory over Hungary in Cologne and a similar performance against Scotland would likely seal a last-16 berth.

Scotland have never made it out of the group phase in 11 previous major tournaments and while they have already put themselves on the back foot, all is not lost. Although it almost certainly will be if they suffer a second defeat.

With the best four of the six third-placed teams going into the last-16, Clarke believes four points from the games against Switzerland and Hungary could be enough.

"When you lose a game 5-1, and I have been in this a long time, you have to take all the criticism that comes," he said. "You have to respond. The good thing for me is, I have been in this position before. I have always responded pretty well. The players have always responded pretty well.

"We believe in ourselves. They are disappointed. But they know they have to be ready and up for the next game because that's the nature of being involved in football."

Scotland will be without centre back Ryan Porteous after his red card against Germany meaning a likely start for Grant Hanley while there are calls for midfielder Billy Gilmour to be restored to the team at the expense of Ryan Christie.

Switzerland will start the game as favourites on the basis of their first-half showing against Hungary although manager Murat Yakin was not happy with the second half in Cologne and will warn his players of a Scotland backlash.

"We are sure there will be a reaction from Scotland -- we are expecting a great reaction," Yakin's assistant Giorgio Contini said -- comments echoed by midfielder Vincent Sierro.

"For them it's a very important game because they didn't play the way they wanted against Germany. We know they will not give us anything," Sierro said.

Yakin is likely to start with the side that began against Hungary with striker Kwadwo Duah and midfielder Michel Aebischer -- both of whom scored their first goals for the national side -- getting another chance to impress.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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