REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
11 October, 19:45 BST
Germany host Ireland in their next World Cup qualifier fixture at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne tonight as they look to secure their place in the Brazil next year. The last between meeting between this two side ended in a humiliating defeat for Ireland as Germany scored six goals past them. Marco Reus and Toni Kroos scored a brace, while Mesut Ozil and Miroslav Klose completed the rout. The away side will be hoping for a more respectable score line this time around.
Team News & Tactics
The Germans currently lead the points table in Group C having won seven of their eight matches so far and are already guaranteed a place in the play-off. But a win against Ireland will secure their top spot, although it looks unlikely that Sweden will topple them. The senior side has been on a brilliant run of form with the defeat against USA in a friendly being the only recent blemish.
Germany are coming into this game on the back of 3-0 victory against Faroe Island away from home. Per Mertesacker opened the scoring in that game, while Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller put them out of sight with goals in the second half. It was a dominating display from the German side who had 76% of possession, although it must be added that Faroe Island played the last 16 minutes of the game with ten men.
Manager Joachim Low is without some of his key players in this game as Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Sven Bender, Lars Bender and Marco Reus are all out of contention with injuries. There are also doubts about the fitness of Mario Gotze and the Bayern Munich attacker will start from the bench in this game.
Joachim Low is expected to make three changes to the starting line-up he fielded against Faroe Island in their last game. Marcell Jensen will replace Marcel Schmelzer at the left back, while Bastian Schweinsteiger will return to the midfield alongside Kroos and Khedira. Draxler will drop back to the bench while Max Kruse replaces the injured Klose upfront. This means Ozil will move out to the left as Kroos will play in the role of the attacking midfielder, while Khedira and Schweinsteiger will form the pivot. This is another brilliant opportunity for Kruse to prove his worth on the international stage and the 25-year-old has started the domestic campaign brightly, scoring five goals in the opening eight matches.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Neuer (GK); Lahm, Mertesacker, Boateng, Jansen; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Muller, Kroos, Ozil, Kruse
Republic Of Ireland
Republic of Ireland are currently 4th in the points table in this group, six points behind second placed Sweden. While they are as good as out of contention for the World Cup next year, mathematically they still have a chance to do the improbable. Ireland will have to win their next two matches and hope that Sweden loses their next two, with Austria losing their last match against Faroe Island and still it will come down to goal difference. So considering how improbable this permutation and combination is, it is easier to assume Ireland are out of the World Cup.
They have been on a poor run of form recently, failing to win their last four matches. Their last victory came against Faroe Island back in June. This run of form have also resulted in Giovanni Trapattoni leaving his role as the manager of the side and Noel King being appointed as the interim manager. It is a thankless job that King has taken over and he will look hope that he could restore some dignity after the thrashing they received at the hands of Germany in the last meeting between these two sides. Ireland are coming into this game on the back of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Austria away from home in their last game as David Alaba scored a later winner for the home side.
Ireland are without Hull City player Robbie Brady in this game due to hernia operation. Damien Delaney has taken his place in the squad. There are also some doubts about the fitness of Robbie Keane as the LA Galaxy striker missed out on training with a knock in his ankle, but he is likely to feature in this game.
Under King there is expected to be some changes in tactics to what Trapattoni used. He is likely to use a 4-5-1 formation instead of the usual 4-4-2. Which means King will field a completely different midfield of McGeady, Gibson, McCarthy, Reid and Hoolahan. Robbie Kean will lead the line as Shane Long drops back to the bench. Andy Reid has also returned to the squad after a long time and will look to prove a point or two to his previous manager. King is expected to switch the focus from grit and solidity in the midfield to attacking flair and technical finesse. The only thing that remains to be seen is how this will improve Ireland.
Expected starting line-up (4-5-1): Forde; Coleman, O’Shea, Dunne, Wilson; McGeady, Gibson, McCarthy, Hoolahan, Reid; Keane
Players to watch out for
Andy Reid (Ireland)
The 31-year-old was kept out of the side by Trapattoni and now with Noel King in charge, he has a chance to resurrect his international career. Reid, who now plays for Nottingham Forest in the Championship, has made a flying start to the domestic campaign, scoring five and making four assists in 11 matches so far. His experience could come in handy for King, who is looking to find the right combination between youth and experience in his squad.
Germany 3-1 Republic Of Ireland
The home side are of course the favorites to grab a positive result in this game and anything other than a German win will be a shock. But there is a positive vibe about this squad that Noel King has accumulated for this game, with lot of players making their come backs. They will lose this game, but are unlikely to provide a insipid performance they produced in the 6-1 thrashing last time around.