Irish Eyes Smiling In GelsenKirchen?
Germany v Rep. Of Ireland
After an expected win over a team without an official world ranking, Ireland next face the daunting task of the side at the top of the pile in their own backyard.<1--more-->
Germany suffered their first ever defeat to Poland on Saturday as the World Champions went down 2-0 in Warsaw. Arkadiusz Milik opened the scoring with a glancing header before his replacement, Sebastian Mila sealed the three points for the Poles with two minutes remaining.
It was the first loss in 33 qualifying games for the Germans and their first competitive defeat in 19 outings, although they have now lost two of their past three after Argentina gained a measure of revenge for their World Cup final defeat with a 4-2 friendly win over Joachim Loew’s side in September. They began their qualifying campaign with a 2-1 home win over Scotland, with Thomas Muller grabbing both goals, his seventh in the last ten internationals.
Gibraltar were comprehensively beaten 7-0 by Ireland on Saturday evening in Dublin, falling just one goal short of their record international win. Robbie Keane’s 12-minute hat-trick, two from James McClean, an own goal from visiting keeper Jordan Perez and a richly-deserved seventh from Wes Hoolahan secured perhaps the easiest three points any international side will pick up over this week’s games.
It was a second group win for Martin O’Neill’s men following a 2-1 victory in Georgia, when Aiden McGeady scored both goals for the visitors. Ireland now lie second in the group behind Poland on goal difference after picking their third win on the trot overall.
Keane’s treble makes him the highest scoring player in European qualifying history with 21 goals.
A host of star names will be missing for the world champions with Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Bastien Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira out while Phillipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker have both retired since their success in Brazil.
Richard Keogh has been ruled out for Ireland with a hamstring problem which saw him return to Derby County instead of going with the squad to Germany. Daryl Murphy is also a doubt after the Ipswich forward suffered an Achilles injury after coming on as a substitute against Gibraltar. James McCarthy is again expected to miss out but his Everton team-mate Seamus Coleman could feature.
Head to Head
Germany have won four of the nine meetings between the teams over the years, with Ireland victorious only twice. Loew’s charges have won the last two encounters on a 9-1 aggregate scoreline, including a 3-0 victory when they met almost exactly a year ago in Germany and a 6-1 mauling of Ireland in Dublin a year previously.
Despite their recent defeat and injury concerns, nobody should be under any illusions as to the quality this German side still possess and but for wasteful finishing they could quite easily have scored five against Poland, so 1/4 on a home win are explicable.
Ireland will take confidence from Scotland’s plucky performance in Dortmund last month and will hope they can take something from the game although the 10/1 on an away victory could be wishful thinking.
At 20/21 on a +2 handicap Ireland are worth backing as they’ll be confident on the back of three wins and can hardly have picked a better time to face the world champions.
Neither side look assured at the back either though, so goals should be in store and over 3.5 at 11/8 is worth backing too.