Germans prefer to be in pole position

BERLIN • Germany face Ireland away today and a point in Dublin would be enough to confirm their Euro 2016 qualification but the world champions want a win to stop Poland topping the group.

"We don't want to play for the draw. Our aim must be to win the game with our qualities," said Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan ahead of the Aviva Stadium clash.

Germany are two points clear at the top of Group D but a draw in Dublin could allow Poland to claim top spot if they beat Scotland in Glasgow on the same night by virtue of superior goal difference.

The Germans are bracing themselves against Martin O'Neill's men, who earned a point with a 90th-minute goal to seal a 1-1 draw in Gelsenkirchen last October.

"The Irish will come at us with even more bravery and they have players of a very high quality," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

An injury-hit Irish defence, however, faces the daunting task of stopping Germany's front line - even if the world champions are without Galatasaray striker Lukas Podolski.

In-form Thomas Mueller has scored eight goals in qualifying as well as eight goals in as many Bundesliga matches this season.

His Bayern Munich team-mate, Mario Goetze, has two goals in his last two matches for the Bavarian giants and netted a brace over Poland last month.

Captain John O'Shea, who scored the last-minute equaliser when the sides met a year ago, will likely be partnered by the inexperienced Richard Keogh at the heart of defence with Marc Wilson and Ciaran Clark both doubtful.

Ireland are four points clear of Scotland in the battle for a third place play-off spot.

They will not need a result against the Germans or Poland if Scotland fail to get at least a draw at home to the Poles and a win over lowly Gibraltar in their final game.

"I wouldn't have a concern at all about the play-offs," O'Neill said. "Over two games, I'd take my chances. If you were saying would I take the play-offs now, there's no point in beating around the bush - yeah."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'Germans prefer to be in pole position'. Print Edition | Subscribe