Republic of Ireland vs. Germany: Complete Preview for World Cup Qualifier
On Friday, Germany will travel to Dublin to take on the Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
The match is the third for Germany in Group C, while it is only the second for the Republic of Ireland.
Both nations are coming off of disappointing campaigns at Euro 2012.
Germany were dominant in group play but they could not make it past the semifinals, where they lost to Italy; Ireland came away from Poland and Ukraine as one of two nations that did not earn a single point in group play.
With both nations looking to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, Friday's match will be a crucial test to see where both nations stand in that process.
Here is a complete preview for Friday's match at the Aviva Stadium.
Group C Standings
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Republic of Ireland 3pts
Faroe Islands 0pts
As seen above, Group C only has three nations that have a real shot of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Germany, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland will be the three nations fighting for the top two positions in the group table.
The winner of the group will automatically advance to Brazil, while the team in second place will advance to the UEFA play-off round against another second-place team.
Most Recent Meeting
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The last time these two nations squared off was in the qualification process for Euro 2008.
They matchup was in the year prior to the tournament, on October 13. The final score was 0-0, as Germany clinched qualification for Austria and Switzerland after that match.
Only five players who started that match are on their national team roster for Friday's match.
Two Germans—Bastain Schweinsteiger and Per Mertesacker—and three Irishmen—Robbie Keane, Andy Keogh and Kevin Doyle—started in that match at Croke Park, nearly five years ago.
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Germany: A 3-0 win over Faroe Islands and a 2-1 win over Austria in World Cup qualifying.
Republic of Ireland: A 2-1 win over Kazakhstan in World Cup qualifying and a 4-1 win over Oman in a friendly.
Germany have been strong in their first two World Cup qualifying matches against the nations with lesser talent in Group C.
Mesut Ozil has scored three goals in those two matches, while Marco Reus and Mario Gotze have been the other goal scorers in qualifying.
Ireland's road trip to Kazakhstan was a successful one in their first World Cup qualifying match. Ireland also easily took care of an Oman side that were very clearly overmatched, when the two played at Craven Cottage in London last month.
Germany Call Up Just One Forward
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Just like he did in September, Germany manager Joachim Low has only called up one true forward to the Germany squad.
The one forward is Miroslav Klose, who is now playing for Lazio.
There is no need to worry for German fans as they have plenty of options in the midfield to score goals.
Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller are listed as midfielders but they have no problem lining up at the forward position if they have to.
The other players listed as midfielders are pretty good as well with Mesut Ozil, Andre Schurrle, Marco Reus and Mario Gotze on the roster as attacking options for Low.
Ireland Dealing with Retirement of Shay Given and Damien Duff
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After Euro 2012, keeper Shay Given and midfielder Damien Duff retired from international duty for the Republic of Ireland.
Given's replacement as first-choice keeper is Keiren Westwood, who only has 12 appearances for his country and is a backup at club level with Sunderland.
Westwood fared well against Kazakhstan in Ireland's first qualifying match, but Germany will be his first real test as the Irish first-choice keeper.
Replacing Duff is a much easier task for manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who has plenty of options on the wing.
Against Kazakhstan, Trapattoni started James McCarthy on the wing in place of Duff.
Trapattoni also started three forwards in their last qualifying match, with Simon Cox and Jonathan Walters in the lineup to provide more power in the attack.
Projected Germany Lineup
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GK: Manuel Neuer
DEF: Marcel Schmelzer, Holger Badstuber, Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm
MID: Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Thomas Muller
FW: Miroslav Klose
Joachim Low should not make too many changes from the side that faced the Faroe Islands and Austria last month.
The only forced change that Low has to make is at center-back, with Mats Hummels being out with an injury.
Look for in-form Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker to beat out Schalke's Benedikt Howedes for the starting spot alongside Badstuber.
Projected Republic of Ireland Lineup
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GK: Keiren Westwood
DEF: Stephen Kelly, Stephen Ward, John O'Shea, Darren O'Dea
MID: Aiden McGeady, Keith Andrews, James McCarthy
FW: Robbie Keane, Simon Cox, Shane Long
The Irish squad is in disarray at the moment as they are ravaged by injuries to a few starters.
Sean St. Ledger, Glenn Whelan and Kevin Doyle are all out of the squad for the Germany match on Friday.
Kelly should replace St. Ledger in defense, with O'Shea moving to right-back and Kelly playing in the center.
Instead of playing with three central midfielders, Trapattoni will be forced to start three forwards once again.
Long has been in great form for West Brom and he may be forced to play out on the wing with Cox as Keane should line up as the central striker.
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Republic of Ireland 0-3 Germany
Germany are too good at the moment to lose this match ahead of their clash with Sweden on Tuesday.
Ireland are a depleted squad due to injury and with Westwood seeing his first live play since the Capital One Cup in late September, that could prove to be an issue against the dangerous German attack.
Look for Ireland to challenge their visitors for the first 20 minutes, but Germany should take over the match once they find their footing in Dublin.