Just under a month after the opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland, the road to France for the German team continues with a trip across the border to Poland for a meeting in Warsaw, before entertaining the Republic of Ireland at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen. Two games that should see a good points return, but at the same time against opponents that will push themselves to the limit in the battle to be among the twenty-four teams that will compete in the final tournament.
The squad named by Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw sees the arrival of one new face, with Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s in-form winger Karim Bellarabi making the step up from the Under-21 team into the full senior squad. Bellarabi has had a great start to the Bundesliga season, and for many his selection is no great surprise. Fast and with a good eye for goal, he should slot perfectly into the high-speed attacking strategy favoured by the coach.
Returning to the squad is centre-back Shkodran Mustafi, now with Spanish club Valencia CF after a summer move from Serie A side Sampdoria. Injured during what was for him a slightly disappointing World Cup. Mustafi will be looking to reestablish his place in the squad and make his way up the pecking order. With VfB Stuttgart’s Antonio Rüdiger continuing to improve and Mats Hummels also back from injury, there should hopefully be a more solid look about the back line – though World Cup ever-present Benedikt Höwedes is now out injured. Also joining the squad is TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s versatile Sebastian Rudy, who would turn out an excellent performance against the Scots after being called into the team at the very last moment.
Up front the recalled Max Kruse replaces Mario Gómez, who after a disappointing comeback last month is dropped alongside Kevin Großkreutz. Also missing are the injured Marco Reus and Sami Khedira.
With more qualifying slots up for grabs both of the Nationalmannschaft’s two opponents are realistically chasing second spot, and any points taken against the world champions will be seen as something of a bonus. As Scotland showed last month in Dortmund, nobody can be taken for granted in a competition where every point will prove to be crucial.
Germany’s record against neighbours Poland is umblemished with a record of twelve wins and six draws from theit eighteen meetings, and the last encounter just before the World Cup would see a second-string German team held to a goalless draw in Hamburg. On their last visit to Poland in September 2011, Löw’s team would just above preserve their unbeaten record with a last-gasp equaliser from Cacau in Gdańsk. The two teams have met only twice before in qualifying competition, when Helmut Schön’s German team would secure a 3-1 win in Warsaw before being held to a goalless stalemate in Hamburg en route to qualifying for the 1972 European Championship finals – where they would win the trophy for the first time.
The Republic of Ireland have become somewhat familiar opposition for Löw’s team, with the two countries being drawn together for the third time in the last five tournament qualifying rounds. En route to the World Cup finals in Brazil a 6-1 demolition of the Irish in Dublin would be followed by a more sedate 3-0 win in Köln, but an improving Irish side will be looking to offer more of a challenge this time around.
Both of Germany’s opponent have got off to a good start: Ireland would work their way to a 2-1 win against a tough Georgian outfit, while Poland would have a much easier time of it against tournament new boys Gibraltar, with FC Bayern München striker Robert Lewandowski netting four times in an easy 7-0 win.
Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München, 54/0)
Roman Weidenfeller (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 4/0)
Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96, 3/0)
Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München, 47/0)
Erik Durm (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 3/0)
Matthias Ginter (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 4/0)
Mats Hummels (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 36/4)
Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia CF, 4/0)
Antonio Rüdiger (VfB Stuttgart, 2/0)
Sebastian Rudy (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 3/0)
Karim Bellarabi (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 0/0)
Julian Draxler (FC Schalke 04, 13/1)
Christoph Kramer (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 7/0)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid CF, 53/7)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München, 58/24)
Mesut Özil (Arsenal FC, 62/18)
Lukas Podolski (Arsenal FC, 118/47)
André Schürrle (Chelsea FC, 41/17)
Mario Götze (FC Bayern München, 37/12)
Max Kruse (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 6/1)