Ireland boss Pauw: '3-0 against Germany is not a bad result at all... the next game is D-day'

Ukraine next month is the big one, as the Girls In Green look to make history in reaching Euro 2022.

“3-0 AGAINST GERMANY is not a bad result at all,” says Ireland manager Vera Pauw as the focus now switches to their decisive Euro 2022 qualifier against Ukraine next month.

The European heavyweights did the damage in the first half in Essen, goals from Marina Hegering, Dzsenifer Marozsán and Lea Schüller powering the hosts to top spot in Group I after five wins, 34 goals scored and zero conceded.

A much-improved second-half showing from Ireland limited the damage against the world’s second-ranked team, and Dutch boss Pauw was pleased with how her side reacted after the early onslaught.

In an interesting post-match interview with RTÉ, Pauw explained how one can’t play against something until they’ve learned how to. Ireland learned what they needed to know about “arguably the best team in the world” in the first period, she said, and changed in the second after half-time analysis.

“3-0 is not a bad result,” Pauw, whose Ireland side are ranked 32nd in the world, told RTÉ presenter Peter Collins from pitchside.

“We are of course disappointed about the first half, that we didn’t attack the ball, we didn’t put pressure on them or make it difficult for them although everybody was working their butt off. But the second half, it was better connected and we could even play.

We can take a lot of heart from the second half. We need to take the best out of this game and I think that at times in the second half, we could show that we have quality.

“Next month against Ukraine we will be better prepared because we’ve felt it [a world-class standard] now.”

“It’s crucial,” Pauw added on how beneficial that game was ahead of their showdown against second seeds Ukraine — who Ireland beat 3-2 last year — in Kiev on 23 October.

“With coronavirus and all the problems that we had to organise it, we could have easily asked Uefa to postpone it to February like many countries have done. But we wanted to play this game no matter what, because you need a game like this in your legs to be the best against Ukraine next month.

“We will take our learnings out of it but the best is that we feel how it is at the top level — and this is higher than it will be against Ukraine. So hopefully against Ukraine we can play the way that we played in the second half and because we don’t have that strong of an opposition, we think that we can break through.”

coach-vera-pauw Pauw and her team before kick-off today. Source: Tim Groothuis/INPHO

Once Ireland avoid defeat against Ukraine — who were beaten 8-0 by Germany twice — they will be guaranteed a second-place finish in Group I.

Runners-up is the target now, with top spot and the best three runners-up across the nine groups earning direct qualification for the delayed finals in England. The remaining runners-up progress to play-offs.

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And despite the first loss of their campaign today, Pauw was full of praise for her side who went down to “an opposition that’s 10 times higher pressure than you’ve trained at.”

“This team has a ceiling, we don’t know where it is. We can grow so far still,” she concluded.

“We can take a lot of positives from that second half because they could adapt to what they felt in the first half and the information that they got. That means that this team can only grow from here.

“Let’s be honest, 3-0… it was such a shame that we couldn’t get a grip in the first half, but 3-0 against Germany is not a bad result at all. Ukraine has lost 8-0 against them twice. For the goal difference, that could also be a plus.

“Next month against is the game, D-day on that moment.”

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Emma Duffy

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