Ireland just another bend in the road for Löw’s champions
Germany coach says his side will be wary of being caught on counter at the Aviva
Germany coach Joachim Löw at Wednesday’s press conference at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.
With the half-distracted air of a man talking on the phone while feeding a child, the Germans fulfilled their pre-match duties in Ballsbridge.
Much of the press conference in the Intercontinental Hotel was taken up with the fallout from Sunday’s Bundesliga clash between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, specifically a post-match interview in which Dortmund captain Mats Hummels had a go at some of his team-mates. Some of it went on Jurgen Klopp’s imminent posting at Liverpool. Between the digs and the squeals, it nearly seemed rude to bring up the Euro 2016 qualifier.
Germany will go into this game against Martin O’Neill’s Ireland side having had only one training session together on account of so many of their players having been involved in club matches on Sunday. Yet manager Joachim Löw didn’t came across as someone to whom this ranked as even a slight inconvenience. Germany need a point at the Aviva to be sure of qualification and no part of them doubts that they will obtain said point at the very least.
At one stage, Löw was asked if there was still time for players to force themselves into his squad for the European Championships. It was framed as a question about the return to goalscoring form of Besiktas striker Mario Gomez and the fact that Germany haven’t yet qualified for said championships clearly struck neither questioner or questionee as being important.
Ho-hum. This is who we are in the world. A pit-stop, a bend in the road. The world champions are here to tidy up business that they really ought to have had out of the way by now. That rocky weekend a year ago when they lost to Poland and drew with Ireland left them with some manning-up to do. It’s inconvenient that they still have something to play for, a fact reflected in Löw having to field his best team.
Still, the German manager did his bit when it came to their opposition. He spoke of Ireland as a sort of Scotland-plus, in precisely the kind of try-hard tones that told you that he’d quickly reverse the names if he was sitting in Glasgow with two wins over Ireland in the bank. On their last visit here, his team ran up a 6-1 win. We may or may not see a repeat this time around.
“Ireland know how to make life hard for the opposition. They are very robust in how they go about things but they can also score on the counter. We also know that Ireland have all to play for with two games left against Germany and Poland.
“They are in with a chance of qualifying directly for France 2016 and they have an excellent chance of coming at least third. And we also know that just like Scotland, they will fight until the very last minute. But having said all this, we are called upon to take the game to the opposition and impose our own match philosophy on them.”
After Löw left the stage, Hummels came in to face a grilling on the story of the week in the German press – which is not, by any measure, the comings and goings at the top of Group D. After he expressed his bafflement at how a post-match interview became the talk of the country, he got around to a dutiful head-patting of the Irish.
“I believe it will be the same as against Scotland,” said Hummels. “I expect a big atmosphere in the ground. It will be a passionate support and a passionate team. They will try to impress us with their physical robustness . Obviously we will have a lot of the possession, this is natural. But we will have to be careful not to get caught on the counter.”
Yep, they sound worried alright.