It’s a wet evening in Köln, and the bad weather appears to have headed north… To provide a little context, I have gone native once again for this World Cup encounter. After spending most of the day trying to escape the drizzle sightseeing in the old city of Bamberg, I am here all showered and refreshed watching the match from my comfortable Ferienwohnung in the Altstadt having knocked the idea of venturing to the Irish pub in the middle of town on the head.
Joachim Löw’s side are in their familiar black and white outfits, while their Irish guests are in their equally recognisable green shirts and white shorts. There’s still no place in the starting eleven for Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels, while Bastian Schweinsteiger makes a welcome comeback after a long spell out through injury to win his 99th international cap.
In the absence of regular strikers Miroslav Klose and Mario Gómez the in-form André Schürrle makes a start, while HSV’s Marcell Jansen starts out on the left of the four-man defence in place of the injured Marcel Schmelzer.
1 min. The home side kick off.
2 mins. A cross-cum-shot from Jansen hits the side netting.
6 mins. There has been some slow build-up play from the home side and Mesut Özil gets time to have a shot a goal, but his left-footed curling effort flies wide.
7 mins. A dangerous moment for the Germans as the Irish break quickly, but Anthony Stokes is foiled by the white-shirted defence before Kevin Doyle fires his shot wide of the target.
10 mins. Jansen wins the Mannschaft’s first corner, but Toni Kroos’ effort is floated into the hands of ‘keeper David Forde.
12 mins. Germany steal the ball in the Irish half, and burst through the middle by skipper Philipp Lahm sees Sami Khedira in space just outside the box. His shot takes a wicked deflection off defender Cieran Clark, and the wrong-footed Forde has no chance. 1-0.
14 mins. Löw’s side are looking good to finish things quickly here. Schürrle sends the ball into the box, but is is cleared away.
17 mins. Germany are keeping the ball well and looking for the opening, and the opposition aren’t looking particularly dangerous.
21 mins. Schweinsteiger lifts the ball into the Irish box looking for FC Bayern München team mate Thomas Müller, but the ball is a little bit too firm for the winger to chase.
23 mins. Germany win three corners in the space of a couple of minutes, but are unable to make any of them count.
24 mins. Schürrle fancies his chances from distance, but sends his shot high over the bar. Not pretty.
25 mins. Müller makes his way to the byline and sends in a cross, but the Irish clear the danger after the ball eludes the leaping Schürrle. Germany are pressing and looking good for a second goal that will surely finish the tie and make sure of their place at the top of the group table.
26 mins. Kroos has a crack from outside the box and sends the ball over the target via a deflection. The corner comes to nothing.
29 mins. The Irish are unable to keep possession, and are forced into hacking the ball away at every opportunity, inviting wave after wave of German attacks.
33 mins. Müller plays the almost perfect ball to Schürrle, but the Chelsea man has the ball swiped away from him just as he is about to pull the trigger.
35 mins. More patient build up sees Lahm power down the right, and the skipper’s cross is well met by Schürrle. Schürrle’s header is on target, but is well parried by Forde.
37 mins. Müller exchanges a series of passes out on the right with Lahm and Özil before cutting inside, and his curling left-footed effort from the edge of the box is brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Forde. The resulting corner once again comes to nothing.
40 mins. Per Mertesacker finds himself having to do a little defending as he rolls the ball back to ‘keeper Manuel Neuer after the Irish make a rare foray into the German half.
41 mins. Schürrle gets another shot on target, but Forde collects.
44 mins. Lahm almost finds the fast-moving Müller in space down the right, but the pass is just a little too firm and Forde collects.
45 mins. Schürrle plays and intelligent ball across the box for Müller, but the FC Bayern man is way too precise with his left-footed effort which ends up in the arms of the busy Forde.
45+1 mins. Schweinsteiger has a half-chance, but sliced his shot wide of the Irish goal. The final moments of the first half see the Irish win a free-kick, and out of nowhere defender Clark clambers over Jérôme Boateng in the air to send a header crashing against the German crossbar. That would have been a killer goal to concede, and the ball is finally cleared before referee Serge Gumienny blows for half-time.
It has been a dominant forty-five minutes for Jogi Löw’s side, but as in the previous two matches the performance has been plagued by an inability to create genuine chances in the final third. While Irish ‘keeper Forde has made a couple of excellent saves, the Mannschaft could and arguably should have had this game wrapped up by now. It is not often when a team that has had 75% of the possession goes into half-time only goal up.
46 mins. The visitors kick off the second half, with neither side making any changes. Within seconds, Stokes somehow has a sight of goal and fires his wide. The Irish have started well, and Neuer tips the ball behind for a corner.
47 mins. The corner is cleared by the German defence, but James McCarthy smacks a shot high over the target. That’s three half-decent shots at goal by the Irish in the space of a couple of minutes, more than they managed in the entire first forty-five.
50 mins. After a dodgy opening to the half the home side finally settle back down into their smooth and controlled passing game. Khedira’s looping ball finds Lahm, but after controlling it brilliantly the skipper is unable to capitalise.
51 mins. A long ball thumped forward into the German half finds Stokes in space, and in what is a crazy moment Neuer comes charging out to intercept. The German Torhüter misses the ball but thankfully also misses the man, but does enough to quell the move as the Irishman sends the ball into the crowd behind the German goal.
52 mins. Germany win a corner out on the right and Khedira appears to be fouled in the box, but in spite of the protests from the home side the referee waves play on.
56 mins. Schürrle picks the ball up on the left and dances into the Irish box, but his right-footed shot is well wide of the Irish goal.
57 mins. Khedira is booked for a clumsy challenge on Doyle.
58 mins. Germany win another corner, and it is a magnificent move. The corner is taken short, Müller finds Kroos outside the Irish penalty area, and the midfielder’s delicious chip over the green-shirted defence finds Schürrle. This time the Chelsea winger collects, spins on a Pfenning and strokes the ball low with his left foot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. 2-0.
60 mins. More patient build-up, and Schweinsteiger launches as cracking effort that is brilliantly turned behind by Forde. The more conventional corner into the penalty area sees Mertesacker head high and wide.
62 mins. Stokes joins Khedira in the referee’s notebook.
65 mins. More patient passing again from the home side, and the visitors once again cannot get a touch. They win another corner, and another smart move sees Müller’s diving header fly narrowly wide, though he is flagged for offside.
68 mins. Everyone is getting involved now with the elaborate passing that sees the ball moving up, down and across the pitch.
72 mins. Schürrle picks up the ball out on the left, and shows great vision in floating the ball into the box for the advancing Müller. The number thirteen makes good ground to slide in at the far post, but his shot is well blocked by Forde.
73 mins. The play swings quickly to the other side, and Neuer is forced into make a fine save from the impressive and energetic Stokes.
75 mins. Cute little flicks, subtle back heels and more sharp passing… And Özil’s shot is blocked by a green shirt.
77 mins. Kroos cracks another shot at the Irish goal, and Forde is there again to parry. It is fair to say that while Germany should have been further in front, the Millwall ‘keeper has had an outstanding match.
79 mins. Boateng foils an Irish attack down the right flank, but is unable to prevent the corner. Thankfully nothing results from it, as the ball is quickly cleared by the men in white shirts.
81 mins. The crafty Müller almost fashions a chance from nothing with some typical Raumdeuter movement.
82 mins. Khedira sends a well-hit shot curling towards the goal, but once again Forde is there to keep it out with a fine reflex save. It is the Real Madrid man’s last action of the evening, as he is replaced by Max Kruse.
83 mins. Boateng lets fly with a well-struck long-range effort that cannons off the right side of the Irish crossbar. That was a spectacular effort that deserved better.
84 mins. Kruse has a shot on goal that is deflected behind for a corner, but the danger is cleared by the Irish defence.
85 mins. A smart ball from Müller is sent in towards Schürrle, who is called back for offside as his shot flies wide. The Chelsea man is given a warm round of applause by the home crowd as he is replaced by Mario Götze.
87 mins. Özil sends the ball narrowly wide of the far post with a cultured right-footed effort.
88 mins. The Nationaltrainer completes the changes for the evening, as Sidney Sam comes on for Müller.
90 mins. The unlucky Stokes has another shot well blocked by Neuer, and when the Irish win a free-kick out on the left the Bayern keeper dives brilliantly to deflect Clarke’s header behind.
90+1 mins. Germany break fast out of their own half and storm up the field, and Kroos picks out Özil out on the right. The mercurial playmaker delivers the coolest of cool finishes, as he flicks the ball over the diving Forde with the outside of his left foot to find the bottom left-hand corner of the net. 3-0.
The Mannschaft have secured their third straight 3-0 win, and have sealed their passage to Brazil with another convincing performance. The team take the applause from the home crowd, with just the trip to Stockholm remaining to wrap up their qualifying campaign. They will be looking to finish the group unbeaten, and continue the long record of never being beaten in a World Cup qualifying match away from home.
v Republic of Ireland, Rhein-Energie-Stadion, Köln, 11.10.2013
Khedira 12., Schürrle 58., Özil 90.+1. / –
Germany: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker, Boateng, Jansen – Khedira (82. Kruse), Schweinsteiger – Müller (88. Sam), Kroos, Schürrle (86. Götze) – Özil
Republic of Ireland: Forde – Coleman (c), Clark, Delaney, S. Kelly – Gibson, M. Wilson – Whelan, Doyle – J. McCarthy – A. Stokes
Referee: Serge Gumienny (Belgium)
Assistants: Frank Bleyen, Kristof Meers (Belgium)
Fourth Official: Luc Wouters (Belgium)
Yellow Cards: Khedira 57. / Stokes 63.
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 14 / 5
Attempts off Target: 6 / 3
Corners: 16 / 4
Fouls Committed: 6 / 11