Jogi Low and his players gather at training. Martin Meissner/AP/Press Association Images

Everything you need to know about Germany (and why we should be terrified)

We don’t wish to ruin your Friday already, but reading this will ruin your Friday.

What they need tonight

Technically, they don’t need anything tonight. Germany are five points clear at the top of Group C and, between tonight and Tuesday night’s trip to Sweden, they only need two points to be sure of top spot and automatic qualification.

If Sweden don’t beat Austria, the Germans can afford to lose both games and they will still go through on top. But, worryingly for Ireland, they have spoken this week about wanting to seal the deal in style.

Style of play

DO YOU NOT remember the 6-1 defeat last October? These guys are pretty good.

If you distil this German side down to one defining quality, it is their speed. These guys are fast — fast with the ball and fast without the ball. That is how they hurt teams.

The brawny, physical style of the past largely went out the window when coach Jogi Löw took over from Jürgen Klinsmann in 2006. Löw’s philosophy is on quick transitions, winning the ball back in defence and then flooding forward in numbers at pace.

Their usual 4-2-3-1 formation suits those ideals perfectly. Don’t get too excited by the fact that Max Kruse is the only out-and-out striker in the squad tonight.

Key men

Bastian Schweinsteiger: Often labelled as the brains of the German operation, Schweinsteiger is the midfield engine room through which most of the play will flow. A succession of injuries ruled him out of the last few squads but he’s back this week to torment the Irish midfield.

Thomas Müller: Manchester City got a recent glimpse of Müller’s class when they played Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week. He has 16 international goals in 44 caps but his game is about much more than finding space behind defences; he’s as dangerous when supplying the penultimate pass as the finish.


Müller: even if he plays like this, he’d still be class (Martin Meissner/AP/Press Association Images)

Mesut Özil: Premier League fans have had a chance to witness Özil’s majesty first-hand since the start of the season, and there’s no denying that his creative threat has turned Arsenal into a very different prospect. If he finds space between the lines, he will punish Ireland.

Club form

Seven of this week’s squad have got their domestic season off to a flyer at Bayern Munich, gelling nicely under new coach Pep Guardiola. Bayern are unbeaten at the top of the Bundesliga with six wins and two draws, and they’ve laid down a marker for their Champions League title defence with comfortable wins against CSKA Moscow and Manchester City.

Sidney Sam and Max Kruse have got their seasons off to a blistering start too with six and five goals apiece in the league.

At Arsenal, Özil has settled in quickly while Per Mertesacker has been a regular at the heart of the Gunners’ back four.

What we’ve learned from their qualifiers

Here’s a lesson not just from this campaign but from every campaign: Germany have only ever lost two World Cup qualifiers.

To be honest, they haven’t looked like losing too many this time around either. If it wasn’t for that remarkable 4-4 draw against Sweden, they would have a 100% record in this campaign.

Take that anomaly out of the equation and their record is: Played 7 Won 7 Scored 24 Conceded 3.

Do we need to continue?

What they have to say about Ireland

Nothing too complimentary, really.

“They will never play any kind of holding game or pass it around like Barcelona do,” Löw said this week.

“You will never see any Irish team playing like that, so it doesn’t really matter who coaches them.

“It really doesn’t matter who plays for Ireland or who wears an Ireland shirt because, at the end of the day, they are more or less similar. They all play the same way and it’s in their DNA that they all play the Irish way.”


Goalkeepers: Rene Adler (Hamburg SV), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Rob-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96).

Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg SV), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Heiko Westermann (Hamburg SV).

Midfielders: Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Mario Götze (Bayern Munich), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Özil (Arsenal), Sidney Sam (Bayer Leverkusen), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).

Strikers: Max Kruse (Borussia Monchengladbach).

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The new guy: Who is Max Kruse?

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