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Football: Atli tipping rank rotten Scotland.

Byline: MICHAEL BAILLIE

ICELANDmanager Atli Edvaldsson has insisted Scotland are still favourites for Saturday's crucial Hampden clash despite Berti Vogts' team dropping below their Group 5 rivals in the world rankings. The Scots are at their lowest ever placing in the FIFA World rankings after falling three places to 63rd. Vogts' men have slipped 10 places since he took charge last February and now lie two behind Iceland. But Edvaldsson is adamant that his side remain the underdogs for the European Championship qualifier. He said:"I can't believe we're above Scotland in the ranking. That is not an omen for Saturday. Nobody really believes we can win.Scotland are favourites and they are looking to the game against Germany, which is the biggest match for you."

Despite Scotland's slide, Edvaldsson believes Vogts' side are battling with World Cup runners-up Germany for top spot.

Vogts has always insisted the Scots are competing with Iceland and Lithuania for the play-off spot in Group 5, with the Germans favourites to automatically qualify for EURO 2004 in Portugal.

But Edvaldsson did a better job than his managerial opponent in rousing the Tartan Army by claiming Scotland could even win the group by defeating the Germans when Rudi Voller brings his side to Hampden in June.

Edvaldsson added: "Of course Scotland are favourites and it does not matter how much you try to bring the favourite role in the group, Scotland are looking towards Germany.

"I know Berti Vogts and he wants to take Germany on.

"I don't think anyone will believe Iceland or Lithuania or the Faroe Isles are competing with Scotland and Germany in the group. Scotland have a chance against Germany. I know the Germans will do anything not to lose against Berti.

"When you are over-motivated as Germany will be then that can cause problems.

"With Germany you never know. When the people are behind them they can do unbelievable things, like in the World Cup.

"But when they pick on them then they can lose every game.

'I'm sure Scotland can beat them, they will be two very interesting games."

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UNDERDOGS: Edvaldsson
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUS
Date:Mar 27, 2003
Words:354
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