A year and three days after their last meeting in Köln, Germany host the Republic of Ireland at the the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, looking to erase the bad memories of the previous Saturday’s defeat in Poland and get their Euro 2016 qualification campaign back on track. The Irish come in to the game with a degree of confidence, top of the group table with a maximum six points from their two games following victories over Georgia and Gibraltar.
For Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw the personnel issues continue. With the squad already shorn of a number of key players, the coach has to make two enforced changes. Defensive midfielder Christoph Kramer is down with a stomach bug and is replaced by Matthias Ginter, while flu-hit André Schürrle is replaced by the less than one hundred percent fit Julian Draxler. If the starting lineup against Scotland had been unfamiliar, this one is even more so.
The home side are back in their now familiar all-white outfit, while their visitors are in all green. With the anthems and pre-match formalities over, Slovenian referee Damir Skomina prepares to get things under way in front of an expectant crowd that expects nothing less than victory. In qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, the Nationalmannschaft would put a total of nine goals past the Irish with two emphatic wins.
1 min. The visitors kick off.
3 mins. Antonio Rüdiger and Karim Bellarabi look to combine down the right as the home side start brightly.
4 mins. The ball breaks to Rüdiger who has a really speculative effort from around thirty-five yards that flies well wide.
5 mins. The first real threat in the Irish goal, as Bellarabi runs at the green-shirted defence who struggle to clear their lines. From some twenty-five yards out Erik Durm strikes the ball perfectly on the volley and sees it ping off the crossbar.
9 mins. It has been a period of sustained pressure from the home side, and the Irish are looking slightly rattled at the back.
14 mins. There’s a lot of play in the middle of the pitch as Jogi Löw’s side look to pick a hole through the Irish defence. Toni Kroos is fouled around eighteen yards out and a well-worked free-kick sees Rüdiger head a decent half-chance wide after a good setup by Kroos and Thomas Müller.
16 mins. Kroos finds Draxler in space out on the right, and the Schalke man makes his way towards the byline before returning the favour. Kroos has plenty of time to take a few more steps and line up a shot, but instead sends a rather woeful first-time effort well wide of the target.
21 mins. Bellarabi looks to dance into the Irish penalty area again, and almost finds Mario Götze with a slightly fortuitous short pass.
23 mins. Draxler makes a good run into the box as he looks to collect a nice looking ball from Götze but is unable to gain control of it with the back of his head.
25 mins. As we pass the half-way stage in the first half the game is starting to fit the same pattern as the previous two. Possession, possession, pressure, pressure… But no movement on the scoreboard.
26 mins. Kroos has a pop from well outside the box, and the ball flies into the stands.
27 mins. Matthias Ginter looks to find Bellarabi with a nudge forward into the box but David Meyler is able to get in front of the Leverkusen winger and ‘keeper David Forde collects.
30 mins. A rare irish attack is easily cleared, and as the play quickly swings to the other end of the itch another German move towards the Irish goal ends with a misplaced pass by Draxler.
32 mins. A poor ball by Marc Wilson puts Forde in danger and the ‘keeper charges out to clear but can’t find the touchline. There’s a moment of panic for the Irish, but the men in white cannot find the space to get a shot in as Forde desperately scuttles back to his line.
33 mins. Germany win a corner which is sent in by Kroos, and when the Irish again fail to clear Rüdiger’s header is on target but easily collected by Forde.
37 mins. Ginter tries to play through the green wall but once again it comes to nothing. Ireland punt the ball clear, and the Nationalmannschaft set themselves up again.
39 mins. The so far anonymous Müller has a wild effort takes a lucky deflection and goes off for a corner, which predictably comes to nothing.
40 mins. Kroos wins a free-kick out on the right and sends it in nicely towards Ginter, but the Borussia Dortmund man is only able to send it over the bar.
41 mins. Kroos is upended again, this time by Glenn Whelan who receives the yellow card.
43 mins. Durm goes down after a strong fifty-fifty challenge on Aiden McGeady, and the ball is played towards Wilson at the far post but floats wide.
45 mins. Jérôme Boateng floats a high pass towards the box towards Götze, who is flagged offside.
45+1 mins. Müller sends Draxler down the left, who dances round Meyler to hit a slightly scuffed shot straight at Forde.
45+2 mins. The whistle is blown for half-time.
Overall, yet another disappointing showing from the world champions, and there are a few whistles from the crowd as they trudge off to the dressing room for what will surely be some harsh words from the Nationaltrainer. Martin O’Neill’s Irish side have presented little threat, but their mission to keep things tight and escape back home with at least a point is running to plan so far.
The German team has looked short of ideas so far, with nothing coming from the flanks and repeated attempts to thread the ball through the tight green line coming being met with groans of frustration from the Gelsenkirchen crowd.
Joachim Löw is clearly looking to press on for the points as Lukas Podolski is on for his 120th international cap, replacing defensive midfielder Ginter.
46 mins. The home side get the second half underway.
47 mins. Boateng looks to find Müller with a long ball into the box but Forde collects safely.
49 mins. A moment of panic as Podolski gives the ball away and Robbie Keane advances with McGeady to his left. A threatening cross from James McClean comes in but Neuer does well to collect the ball in what is first piece of serious action so far.
50 mins. Podolski is now at the other end, and his deflected shot is turned behind by Forde for a corner – which once again garners nothing.
52 mins. Whelan takes a knock and it looks as if he is going off, but the substitute is send back onto the bench as the Irish number six soldiers on.
53 mins. A brilliant crossfield ball from Kroos picks out Bellarabi out on the right, and after an excellent colelction and first touch the winger hit a shot that is turned behind by Forde. Mats Hummels gets his head to the corner but the Irish clear.
54 mins. Whelan eventually makes way for Jeff Hendrick.
55 mins. The home side are pressing hard now, and Forde makes a fine save to turn over a well-struck effort from Kroos that takes a wicked swerve in the air. The corner is taken quickly but there’s still no way through.
56 mins. Another corner is helped on by Hummels towards Müller at the far post, and his shot is on target but blocked by a flailing McGeady.
58 mins. Another ball into the Irish box sees Müller head it into space for Podolski, who looks to control it before running into Wilson. There’s a loud shout for a penalty by the 120-cap veteran and an even louder shout from the home crowd, but the Slovenian referee is unmoved.
63 mins. Another change for the visitors as Keane makes way for Darron Gibson.
65 mins. The Irish are starting to see a little more of the ball now, and with only twenty-five minutes remaining the crowd are starting to get more than just a little impatient.
67 mins. Rüdiger sends in a testing right-wing cross into the opposition box towards Müller, who is penalised for a fictitious push on a defender.
68 mins. Wilson joins Whelan in the referee’s notebook as Mr Skomina finally notices that the men in green have just more than a little rough in their challenges.
69 mins. Durm sends another teasing ball forward and Müller finds Götze, who goes down in the box, but the referee again waves play on. There was a clear case there, with John O’Shea all over the FC Bayern playmaker.
70 mins. The second roll of the dice from the German coach as Max Kruse comes on for the disappointing Draxler.
71 mins. The white wave comes again. Kroos has the ball at the edge of the area, and is given way too much space by Stephen Quinn. With a smooth swing of his left foot, the Real Madrid midfielder sends the ball unerringly past the diving Forde in off the ‘keeper’s right post. Finally, the green wall is breached and Germany are in front. 1-0
Toni Kroos finally finds the back of the net in the seventy-first minute to put the Nationalmannschaft in front
77 mins. The home side appeared to have slipped into their comfort zone now as they continue to keep the ball, and the Irish make their final change of the evening as Wesley Hoolahan comes on for Quinn.
79 mins. Boateng sends in a curling effort but Forde collects easily. Bellarabi is on his own and makes a darting run into the box, but the ball is just a little too far ahead of him.
80 mins. Kroos and Müller combine beautifully to almost set up Götze, and Forde is forced into another excellent save to deny German what would surely be a match-sealing second.
85 mins. The Irish have created nothing so far, but break at pace down the left as the referee plays a good advantage after a foul by Hummels on Jonathan Walters. McClean gets in a good low cross and Wes Hoolahan looks primed to score an undeserved equaliser, but Durm comes flying in to execute an outstanding tackle. Hummels is booked for the earlier foul.
87 mins. The German coach is now looking to shore things up as defensive midfielder Sebastian Rudy comes on for Bellarabi. If anything, this is just an invitation for the Irish to throw everything forward with nothing to lose.
90+1 mins. Hoolahan again has the ball in space in a promising position, but the men in white do just about enough to quell the danger. Having dominated the possession for so long, the Germans are suddenly finding it difficult to keep hold of the ball.
90+3 mins. The Irish have saved their most attacking football for these final minutes, and they are putting some pressure on a shaky-looking German back line. I am getting visions of Berlin, and that infamous game against Sweden.
90+4 mins. With the last kick off the game the Irish make that pressure pay off. Hoolahan’s right wing cross is overhit, but with the German defence at sixes and sevens the other sub Hendrick pulls the ball back into the danger area. On what his 100th appearance, O’Shea shows enough desire to get ahead of Hummels to turn the ball bast Neuer and into the bottom right hand corner.
Four minutes into injury time John O’Shea is on target for the Irish as Germany’s defence goes to pieces
90+5 mins. There’s no time for the restart, and the final whistle blows.
The home side have been left stunned, as are the crowd who greet the final whistle with a chorus of jeers. The Irish team meanwhile are beside themselves, having pulled a point out of almost nothing. As in the game against Poland, Germany have been unable to turn their possession and opportunities into more than just the one goal.
It’s arguably too early to call a crisis meeting, but the world champions have picked up just one point from the last six and sit in third place in the table – three behind both Poland and the Irish. With a total of just four points from an available nine, this is now the Mannschaft’s worst start to any major tournament qualifying campaign.
v Republic of Ireland, Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, 14.10.2014
Kroos 71. / O’Shea 90+4.
Germany: Neuer (c) – Rüdiger, Boateng, Hummels, Durm – Ginter (46. Podolski), Kroos – Bellarabi (86. Rudy), Götze, Draxler (70. Kruse) – Müller
Republic of Ireland: Forde – Meyler, O’Shea, Wilson, Ward – McGeady, Walters, Whelan (53. Hendrick), McClean – Quinn (76. Hoolahan), Keane (c) (63. Gibson)
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
Assistants: Jure Praprotnik, Robert Vukan (Slovenia)
Goal Line Assistants: Slavko Vinčić, Roberto Ponis (Slovenia)
Fourth Official: Manuel Vidali (Slovenia)
Yellow Cards: Hummels / Whelan, Wilson
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 63% / 37%
Attempts on Target: 13 / 3
Attempts off Target: 7 / 0
Corners: 9 / 1
Fouls Committed: 11 / 7