The penultimate fixture of Germany’s World Cup qualifying campaign would see them take on the Republic of Ireland in Köln’s Rhein-Energie-Stadion, with the Nationalmannschaft needing a win to secure their automatic passage to Brazil. Having beaten the Irish 6-1 on the road Joachim Löw’s side would be massive favourites against an Irish side working under interim coach Noel King, following the dismissal of Italian Giovanni Trapattoni.
Germany would never be threatened on what would be a pretty easy night, and would secure their third straight three-goal win following last month’s victories against Austria and the Faroe Islands – and once again would provide plenty of huff and puff that in a match that could and arguably should have seen a far more convincing scoreline.
Facts and Stats
With the Irish having already been eliminated from the tournament, this would be all about the Germans maintaining their momentum. Having been dispatched with considerable ease in the corresponding fixture in Dublin, it would be about little more than damage limitation for King’s side – a chance to restore some pride after a disappointing campaign.
Germany would come into the match with a somewhat ordinary record of eight wins, four draws and five defeats against the Irish, but in important games their record would be a lot healthier with two wins and two draws. While the Mannschaft’s first thirteen matches against the Republic had been friendlies, the match in Köln would be their fifth successive competitive encounter.
The Team and Tactics
Deprived of regular strikers Miroslav Klose and Mario Gómez, Nationaltrainer Löw would play a rejuvenated André Schürrle as part of a flexible attack alongside Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos, while Mesut Özil would be given licence to roam. With no dedicated striker, the system would be flexible enough to switch between a traditional 4-2-3-1 with any of Müller, Schürrle and Özil at the top and other variations including a Spanish-style strikerless 4-3-3 or a more attacking 4-1-4-1.
Although the result would be more than satisfactory and Germany’s passing game and possession play would continue to be excellent, the lack of a killer final ball would often be evident: it is clear that plenty of work is needed to perfect the “strikerless” approach should the coach choose to go in this direction next year in Brazil.
With both Marco Reus and Lukas Podolski out injured and youngster Julian Draxler on the bench, the main man to watch would be Schürrle. Having moved from Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea the young blond winger had sailed close to the edge of national team selection, but a decent start for the London side – in contrast to the long-forgotten Marko Marin – would see him given a chance to force his way up the pecking order.
Germany would boss the possession and never look in danger of suffering an upset, but for long spells of the match would look distinctly unfinished up front. Despite dominating the first half they would only have one goal to show for their efforts – Sami Khedira’s effort that would take a wicked deflection off defender Cieran Clark – but in fairness Irish ‘keeper David Forde would turn out a fine display with a number of excellent saves to keep his team in the contest.
Schürrle’s strike thirteen minutes into the second half would settle any remaining nerves on the German bench, and while the Irish would threaten the otherwise untested Manuel Neuer late on, it would be a stroll for the men in white. Özil would round things off nicely with a typically nonchalant third goal a minute into added time, and all that remained would be the obligatory shaking of hands after yet another convincing yet workmanlike victory.
Conclusion and Ratings
Another solid performance, some touches of individual brilliance, and a sterling performance by the opposition ‘keeper would pretty much define this match, would would be yet another case of “job done”. While the offensive line would look less effective than usual, the defence would stand up nicely with the partnership of Jérôme Boateng and Per Mertesacker looking increasingly confident.
Was untested for most of the evening, but showed why he is Germany’s number one with a couple of decent saves at the end to maintain his and the team’s clean sheet.
An excellent all-round display from the skipper, who combined his usual defensive solidity with a number of bursts forward down the right flank.
The tall defender had a quiet game and was rarely tested, but did what he had to do. Having endured much criticism in the past, the Arsenal man looks to have forged a decent central defensive partnership with Jérôme Boateng.
Another solid display from Boateng, who is starting to look more comfortable in the role. Was quick to quell any opposition attacks, and also showed his presence in attack. Was unlucky not to score when a spectacular right-footed drive seven minutes from time smashed against the crossbar.
Was tested down the wing by the busy Anthony Stokes, but looked solid enough filling in for the injured Marcel Schmelzer. After a spell in the wilderness he looks to have secured a permanent spot in the squad.
Scored the opening goal, and maintained his high standard in managing things from the back. Did his job quietly and effectively as usual. Replaced by Max Kruse with eight minutes remaining.
Back in the side after a break through injury, and looked a little sluggish at times. Schweinsteiger has long been seen as a mainstay in the side, but will have to up his game with a number of others chasing his spot.
Kroos is one of those players who has been on the fringe of the starting eleven for a while, and he would make the most of his opportunity with an excellent performance. Distribution was excellent, and set up both of the second half goals. The chip over the Irish defence to create Schürrle’s chance was nothing short of sublime.
As busy as usual, but guilty of missing a couple of excellent chances. Not one of Der Raumdeuter’s better games, but his movement off the ball continues to be a crucial factor. Was replaced two minutes from time by Sidney Sam.
Made the most of a rare start with an excellent showing, and a well-taken goal. Was sharp on the ball and continually threatened the Irish defence. Gave way to Mario Götze with four minutes left.
A quiet and at times hit-and-miss evening for the Arsenal playmaker, but showed his quality at the end with a sublime finish to score Germany’d third goal and his seventh of the qualifying campaign. In fairness he never really needed to work too hard.
Eight minutes on the pitch for the Borussia Mönchengladbach man after coming on for Khedira.
Although not fully fit, the Bayern starlet would earn another international cap with four minutes on the pitch in place of Schürrle.
A short run-out for the Bayer Leverkusen winger, replacing Müller after 88 minutes.
Neuer (3), Lahm (2), Mertesacker (4), Boateng (3), Jansen (4), Khedira (2.5), Schweinsteiger (3), Müller (3), Kroos (2), Schürrle (2.5), Özil (4). Subs: –
Neuer (2.5), Lahm (2.5), Mertesacker (3), Boateng (2.5), Jansen (3), Khedira (3), Schweinsteiger (3.5), Müller (3.5), Kroos (1.5), Schürrle (2), Özil (3.5). Subs (before 75 mins): –