Northern Ireland vs. Germany: World Cup 2018 Qualifying Live Stream, Preview

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2017

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 21:  Jonny Evans (L) and Gareth McAuley of Northern Ireland react during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Northern Ireland and Germany at Parc des Princes on June 21, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Northern Ireland need a win at Windsor Park on Thursday if they are going to have any chance of pipping Germany to top spot in Group C of the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Germany will arrive in Belfast needing only a point to officially qualify for next summer's tournament after winning all eight of their previous qualifiers. The World Cup holders still boast an enviable array of talent in midfield and forward areas.

Before a preview, here are the schedule and viewing details:

      

Date: Thursday, October 5

Time: 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET.

TV Info: Sky Sports Football, Fox Soccer Plus.

Live Stream: Sky GofuboTV.

Germany's attack will be without precocious RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner. He will miss out due to a neck problem, per the Bundesliga's official website.

The report noted how the prolific 21-year-old has "scored three times in Germany’s previous two Group C qualifiersa 2-1 win against the Czech Republic and a 6-0 triumph of Norwayto take his tally to six goals in eight appearances for Die Mannschaft."

Yet, even without Werner, manager Joachim Low can call on plenty of skilled forwards. Among them, Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller will be looking to make an impact following a difficult time at club level.

Muller's movement will cause Northern Ireland problems.
Muller's movement will cause Northern Ireland problems.Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Bayern recently sacked manager Carlo Ancelotti amid a rumoured players' revolt, per German publication Kicker (h/t The Independent). Yet, whatever his problems with the deposed Italian were, Muller has still been impressing at the start of this season, having scored once and provided two assists in Germany's top flight, per WhoScored.com.

The 28-year-old can play anywhere along the forward line, and his versatility suits the fluid approach Low demands. It's a similar story with Paris Saint-Germain forward Julian Draxler and Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, who can both play wide or through the middle.

Interestingly, Low has opted against including any players from Borussia Dortmund in the squad for this match, per another report from Bundesliga.com. It means there's no place for Mario Gotze, Maximilian Philipp or Andre Schurrle.

The onus for supplying the attacking players Low has selected will be on Real Madrid playmaker Toni Kroos and Bayern's Sebastian Rudy. They will have to replace the flair and guile of Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, who has been left out amid concerns about his general fitness, according to James Whaling of the Daily Mirror.

Ozil's creative touch has been left out.
Ozil's creative touch has been left out.TF-Images/Getty Images

Northern Ireland's problems are at the back, where a defence set to be in for a busy night will be without Aaron Hughes. The versatile 37-year-old defender is likely to be replaced by West Bromwich Albion centre-back Gareth McAuley, per BBC Sport.

At least manager Michael O'Neill will still be able to count on McAuley's teammate Jonny Evans.

They must be steady at the back, while the quality in the left boot of club team-mate Chris Brunt, as well as the industry of skipper Steven Davis, helps the hosts gain a foothold in midfield.

Evans and McAuley will be the key figures for Northern Ireland.
Evans and McAuley will be the key figures for Northern Ireland.Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Overall, though, Northern Ireland face a tough task keeping Germany at bay for 90 minutes. The atmosphere will be an intimidating one at Windsor Park, but the visitors have too much talent to be awed for long.