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Culture

"McBerti" Takes on His Former Team

Germany's former national soccer trainer Berti Vogts, now coaching Scotland, will face on his former team this weekend in an important European Cup qualification match.

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With just 3 victories in 16 matches since joining Scotland, Vogts isn't smiling much nowadays.

One of Germany's most successful national coaches will face one of his former players on Saturday, as Berti Vogts' Scotland takes on Rudi Völler's World Cup runners-up Germany in the European Cup qualifier.

The two sides share the top position in the four-team group with Lithuania, which has surprised with a wins against the Faroe Islands and Scotland and a tie with Germany. Völler's side is charging for a win in order to put them at top of the group rankings, hopefully all the way through to the end of qualification in October.

Scotland is vying for the second spot in the group, and would love a win or tie against Germany before an expected 52,000 fans in Glasgow to help them keep pace with Lithuania.

"We plan to play very Scottish," said Vogts, who was German national team trainer from 1990 to 1998. "That means with fight and passion. The Germans will have to work hard for a win."

Ballack injured

They might have to work even harder should star midfielder Michael Ballack succumb to a bothersome calf injury. Ballack, who has sat out national games since November because of injury, planned to play Saturday. Recent reports, however, suggest his injury might be worse than originally thought. The injury is one of many on the team, with each of Völler's three fullbacks still hampered by various ailments.

The players remain optimistic.

Deutsche Nationalmannschaft trainiert

Völler (left) and Ballack (right)

"Michael is of course a very important player for us," said Bayern Munich midfielder Jens Jeremies. "But if he doesn't play, we can't use that as an excuse if we don't win."

The presence of Vogts on the other sideline in Glasgow on Saturday has whipped the tabloid press into a frenzy. Though "McBerti" won the European Cup with Germany in 1996 and has more victories overall than Völler, he doesn't enjoy his former striker's popularity among German fans and press.

"Völler wants to blow away Berti and his bagpipes," wrote the mass-circulation Bild this week.

But the pair have dismissed any whiff of rivalry. As Völler's trainer on the U-21 team and later on the national team, Völler built up a good relationship with Vogts.

"When you have a trainer for 15 years and then he's sitting on the bench on the other side, then that's some special," said Völler.

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