It was clear for all to see that the Republic of Ireland went into the match against the world champions Germany with a defensive minded game plan. Playing with six at the back at times, Martin O’Neill wanted his side to be difficult to beat, and as it proved they were. It took a great effort from Toni Kroos to break the deadlock but the hero on the night was ex-Manchester United defender John O’Shea, whose scrambled effort found the back of the net and earned the Republic a point on the night which they will be very pleased with. The qualification campaign has started well for the home nations, but Ireland’s point with Germany will go down as the result of the campaign by far.
Statistically, it was a very characteristic performance from the Germans, enjoying 65% of possession and having 22 attempts on goal throughout the match, compared with Ireland’s four attempts. What they failed to do was get out of first gear and put the match to bed when they went a goal up. They had numerous chances in both halves, being denied by the bar on one occasion, before Kroos let rip a majestic effort to give the Germans the advantage. What they desperately wanted was a second goal but showed neither the urgency nor willing to pursue one. In the end they have no-one to blame but themselves as the Irish left with just rewards for their industry and obdurate defending.
Another qualifier and more struggles for the world champions. After their humiliating loss to Poland at the weekend, Joachim Low and his players would have been keen to make a statement against the Republic. Instead they manage only a point from the two games and lie fourth in their qualification group, which consequently is topped by Ireland and Poland on seven points from the three matches, though the Poles have a superior goal difference. With Ireland facing Scotland next month, it won’t be easy for O’Neill’s side but they will be buoyed by their performance in this match. For the Germans, they will need to buck their ideas up quickly if they are to get their qualification campaign back on track. With a vintage collection of players, Low will be keen to make sure they have an opportunity of emulating the great Spanish side of four years ago. As it stands though they are struggling to get going with only a slender 2-1 win over the Scots and the laboured point against Ireland to show for their efforts so far. Much left to think about for the Germans then before they host Gibraltar on 14 November.
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