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The Irish view from Germany: 'Normal service to resume on Tuesday'

We caught up with two sports journalists who carry a special interest in tomorrow night’s fixture.

Image: Czarek Sokolowski/AP/Press Association Images

TOMORROW NIGHT PROMISES to be an absorbing occasion for any Irish football fan but it takes on special significance for two in particular.

Ciarán Fahey (@cfaheyAP) is a German-based sports reporter for the Associated Press while Mark Rodden (@mrodden) is a sports writer and broadcaster who splits his time between Paris, Berlin and Dublin.

TheScore.ie spoke with both journalists to see just what the local mood is like ahead of an intriguing fixture.

Q: How has the Poland result been received?

Ciarán Fahey: There’s no panic, no reaction, no big deal. Germany should have won and would have done so in normal circumstances. It’s still early days. Normal service to resume on Tuesday.

Mark Rodden: It’s worth remembering that Germany still had 28 attempts on goal so, as Mario Goetze said, they had enough chances to win four games. If they had taken one of several very clear openings in the final 15 minutes of the first half, things would have been different.

Q: Joachim Loew seemed on-edge from the very first minute in Warsaw. Is there a general acceptance/admission that things are misfiring?

CF: Germany are missing a host of players – now with Kramer out too – but defeat to Poland was only the second in qualifying since Loew took over. Even with the injuries, they should have more than enough to beat Ireland at home – it doesn’t even need to be pretty. If they do that, the ship is righted and everyone’s happy.

MR: In fairness, Loew has been open about their difficulties after the World Cup. Between Bundesliga, German Cup and European matches, the players who did feature in Brazil have been under a lot of strain. Loew admitted that many of the players were not in top form in September and warned that it will take time for younger players to settle. Likewise, before the Poland game he stressed the fact that Germany have gone from hunter to hunted. Everyone will be extra motivated against the world champions.

From Ireland’s point of view, Martin O’Neill can take heart from the fact that it’s not same team that won the World Cup – only five of the team who started against Argentina are likely to be in the starting eleven in Gelsenkirchen. If you go further back, only three of the players who started the 6-1 win against Ireland in October 2012 (Neuer, Boateng and Mueller) are likely to start on Tuesday.

Poland Germany Euro Soccer Germany's 22 year-old Erik Durm has little experience with the national team but finds himself in the thick of the action due to retirements and injuries. Source: Czarek Sokolowski/AP/Press Association Images

Q: Has there been much made of the gulf between the recently-retired players and those that have come in to replace them?

CF: The Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi made an encouraging debut against Poland and will start against Ireland, as will defenders Antonio Ruediger and Erik Durm. At his press-conference earlier today, Loew said:

I’m giving them a lot of time because it was obvious that Philipp Lahm, who was world class, could not be replaced in a day. I think Durm has good potential in many areas, in terms of positioning and speed. Sure, there can be mistakes at the back. Ruediger certainly also needs more time.”

MR:  Loew has already stated that young players like Durm (22) and Ruediger (21) will probably make mistakes over the next couple of years as they learn about international football. The loss of Lahm is huge considering Germany have had a problem at left back for several years. Oliver Bierhoff said Germany are missing him not just as a leader but also for his versatility.

Durm again struggled at left-back against Poland, while Rudiger, who plays at centre back for Stuttgart, was the third player they tried at right back in three matches. They’re without an out-and-out striker at the moment too. You’d have to think that Klose would have nicked them a goal on Saturday.

Poland Germany Euro Soccer Poland battled hard at the weekend, keeping their discipline as well as riding their luck. Germany are expecting similar from Ireland tomorrow night. Source: Czarek Sokolowski/AP/Press Association Images

Q: Is there a worry that Ireland are a similar beast to Poland and can harass and close down? Or are our deficiencies quite well-known?

MR: A bit of both. Loew was not doing anyone a disservice ahead of the October internationals when he described games against Poland and Ireland as “unpleasant”. Several of the players and staff mentioned after the Poland game that they’re expecting it to be a bit like against Scotland, who showed how hard it can be against a well-organised side. They’re used to playing against teams who sit back against them and they know that an early goal is vital.

Q: Have Ireland cropped up much in media, e.g. our players, management, tactics? Or has the bulk of the analysis been focused on what went wrong against Poland? 

MR: Not too much as yet. The main lesson from the Poland game was to take their chances. They’re expecting Ireland to sit deep and hit on the counter, just like Scotland and Poland did. But Jens Lehmann, in his role as a TV pundit with German TV channel RTL, said that Ireland would not cause the same problems because they have no pace up front if Robbie Keane plays there.

‘It’s a good time for Ireland to play Germany’ – Didi Hamann

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

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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