After Friday’s Pflichtsieg against Austria, tomorrow sees a trip to the distant North Atlantic, and the Faroe Islands. Now, if some of you don’t know where the Faroe Islands are, they are located directly above the northern coast of Scotland, around halfway between Norway and Iceland. If after that you don’t know where they are, I can’t help you.
A dependency of the Danish crown and home to a population not large enough to fill the Allianz-Arena, this small group of islands rely on whaling and fisheries for trade, and host a number of football teams with names that look a little like postcodes. They also host a feisty international team that have at times punched well above their weight in the international arena – nobody will ever forget their 1-0 win over Austria in their first competitive international in September 1990.
Germany have played the Faroese on three occasions, and each time things have been tougher than expected. They would win a close 2-1 encounter in Hannover in 2002 with a Miroslav Klose strike settling the issue a minute short of the hour mark, and in a blustery Tórshavn Rudi Völler’s side would not score until right at the death, with two very late goals from Klose and Fredi Bobic sparing their blushes. More recently – again in Hannover – the modern star-studded Mannschaft would be kept to a single first-half goal before eventually running out 3-0 winners.
While Germany come into this match with nineteen points from their seven matches and just a short distance away from booking their place in next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil, the Faroes are not playing as well as they might have hoped. With a blank return from their seven games, they will be looking for a typically robust and physical performance in front of their home crowd at the 6,000-capacity Tórsvøllur.
While Germany were beating Austria the Faroes would go down 2-1 in a group basement clash with Kazakhstan, and a long round trip to Central Asia cannot be described as the best preparation for a home match against the side ranked second in the world. Joachim Löw’s side will be confident of securing a big win, and with it almost secure a spot in Brazil 2014 – even with winger Marco Reus joining the list of walking wounded.
Reus’ absence in Tórshavn should see a start for either Julian Draxler or Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Max Kruse, while the coach could well reshuffle the defensive formation yet again to give Mats Hummels some pitch time, possibly at the expense of Per Mertesacker. Up front Klose will be looking to match his previous outing in the Faroese capital to score the goal that will take him to the top of the international goalscoring chart, while fellow Italian legionnaire Mario Gómez will also be looking to add to his tally.
Here’s my predicted line-up:
Neuer – Lahm (c), Boateng, Hummels, Schmelzer – Khedira, Kroos – Müller, Özil, Draxler – Klose.