Robbie Keane, assistant manager Roy Keane, manager Martin O'Neill, goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh and coach Steve Guppy walking the pitch last night. Donall Farmer/INPHO

5 talking points ahead of today's Germany-Ireland clash

Martin O’Neill’s men face a significant challenge in tonight’s Euro 2016 qualifier against the reigning world champions.

1. Can Germany keep their incredible home record intact?

POLAND’S HISTORIC DEFEAT of Germany was significant for a number of reasons.

Not only was it Poland’s first-ever win over Germany in 19 attempts, it was also the Germans’ first defeat in a qualifier since a 3-0 loss to Czech Republic in October 2007.

The Czech game was also the last time Germany have lost a qualifier on home turf, which is one of the many reasons why they remain firm favourites in this contest.

Ireland, by contrast, have a notoriously poor record against teams above them in the FIFA rankings — both home and away — in competitive matches. Not since the famous victory against Holland in 2001, when Roy Keane was at the peak of his playing powers, have they registered a victory over a genuine footballing superpower.

sp1873 / YouTube

That said, Ireland did manage a 0-0 draw with Germany during the ill-fated Steve Staunton era in 2007 (see above).

2. Will Ireland go with pace in attack?

There has been much debate ahead of this game over which players Ireland should opt for in attack.

Even if the standard of the opposition was particularly poor, Robbie Keane re-emphasised his continuing importance to the Irish side with a 12-minute hat-trick against Gibraltar on Saturday.

Moreover, the 34-year-old striker’s appearance at the pre-match press conference last night suggested O’Neill was set to place faith in the veteran LA Galaxy star and name him as the primary attacker for tonight’s game.

Nevertheless, anyone who watched their recent matches with Poland and Scotland will have noticed that the German defence are particularly vulnerable to pace on the counter-attack. Shane Long, James McClean and Aiden McGeady can all offer this threat, while alternatives such as Robbie Keane or Jonathan Walters cannot.

However, O’Neill took a noticeably cautious approach in Georgia, preferring the experience of Keane and Walters over the dynamism of others, and all the recent signs (his team selection and substitutions against Gibraltar, for instance) indicate he is likely to do the same tonight.

3. Can Martin O’Neill maintain his encouraging record against big teams?


During his Celtic days in particular, Martin O’Neill established a reputation as a coach with an ability to get the best out of his players.

Henrik Larsson apart, the Celtic side of that era had a shortage of star names, and like Ireland now, relied more on their collective strength rather than individual brilliance.

More often than not, the Scottish club exceeded expectations and acquired a number of notable scalps against high-calibre teams such as Juventus, Barcelona and Liverpool.

Nonetheless, just getting a point away in Germany would be up there with O’Neill’s very best managerial achievements, yet as Didi Hamann recently suggested in an interview with, now may be a better time than ever to be taking on the embattled world champions.

4. How big an impact will injuries have on Germany?

Christoph Kramer became the latest player to be ruled out yesterday for what is now a heavily depleted German side.

In addition to the post-World Cup retirements of players such as Philipp Lahm, a number of senior stars including Mesut Özil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira, Benedikt Höwedes, Marco Reus and Mario Gomez are all unavailable for the Ireland clash.

Consequently, at best, five of the team that started the World Cup final will feature tonight.

In the full-back areas, the Germans have looked especially uncertain. They have struggled to replace former captain Lahm, with Borussia Dortmund’s Erik Durm looking uncomfortable in the games against both Poland and Scotland.

Similarly, at right-back, they have also had issues. Hoffenheim’s Sebastian Rudy was tried out against Scotland, while Antonio Rüdiger of Stuttgart was given the nod in the Poland game, yet as with Durm, neither have looked particularly convincing thus far.

Nonetheless, it is perhaps in midfield where Low’s team have suffered most from the withdrawals. Toni Kroos and Christoph Kramer (who misses the Ireland match) were sitting in front of the defence against Poland, and while both are accomplished players individually, Germany lacked the zip to their play that they showed with Schweinsteiger and Khedira in the team at the World Cup, while the latter duo also seem more adept at dominating games compared with their counterparts.

5. Can David Meyler cope with playing right-back?

David Meyler

There are several potential concerns for Ireland tonight, and Hull’s David Meyler is undoubtedly a significant one.

With Seamus Coleman missing through injury, Ireland have no obvious natural replacement for the Everton star, so Meyler is in the team almost by default,

He has played in the position only once competitively for Ireland — during Saturday’s comprehensive win over Gibraltar, from which O’Neill will have learned little.

So picking Meyler — more renowned as a midfielder — at right-back against the world champions represents a big gamble, but with with Coleman unavailable through injury, that was always going to be the case no matter who O’Neill picked there, given Ireland’s lack of viable alternatives in the role.

‘We used to be the hunters, now we’re the prey’ – Germany boss Löw>

Roy Keane: ‘We can’t sit back and expect to defend for 90 minutes against Germany>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.