Germany simply in a different league despite Ireland’s best efforts
Noel King’s line-up battled valliantly but gulf in class was always likely to tell
The Republic of Ireland’s Anthony Stokes and Jerome Boateng of Germany contest an aerial ball during the World Cup qualifier in Cologne. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
There was so clearly a defensive game plan put in place by Noel King’s Republic of Ireland. It didn’t work but not many plans will work against this German side.
Neither Jose Mourinho nor Alex Ferguson or anyone else would have been able to bridge last night’s gulf in class. We tried to keep a tight 4-5-1 formation and hope that eventually Anthony Stokes would expose the space Germany leave between their defence and midfielders.
We really should have scored, especially from that Anthony Stokes chance before half-time after Clark hit the bar and also late on. But we did just fine. There was an argument to use a few more creative players but Noel got his tactics right.
He had a plan to get in behind the Germans. I haven’t seen us create so many chances against a top team for a long time. I think he can be proud of his efforts.
The tactics weren’t too different from how Giovanni Trapattoni would’ve sent his Irish team out. The difference was in personnel. We have more options now. And Lord knows we needed Stokes, Darron Gibson, Kevin Doyle and even Damien Delaney back in the mix.
It suited us that Germany didn’t have a focal point up front. That meant it was going to take something special or, in the case of Sami Khedira’s goal, something lucky to beat the excellent David Forde.
That’s what happened for goal number two. A quick short corner and subtle pass by Toni Kroos for André Schürrle to slip it into the net.
Still, I was surprised we were only one-nil down at half-time. And from the cruellest of deflections off Ciaran Clark.
I’ve rarely seen a game when we’ve had so little possession, even at the start of the Trapattoni regime when he played with four in midfield. The Germans completely dominated for long periods, toying with us really.
Germany are a superb football team and have another gear or two. And still, we definitely should have scored once or twice.
I have to wonder about the logic behind playing Glenn Whelan on the right. But there was logic. Aiden McGeady and James McClean are not defensively minded enough and the idea was to bring some experience and a shield for the defence on that side. It was also to allow Seamus Coleman the opportunity to attack, which he did in the second half.
Glenn had a good game. He got in decent tackles and a few contributions to the counter attack. So what initially looked like a risky selection paid off for Noel.