Germany can't be contained, says O'Neill

A happy Julian Draxler after opening accounts for Germany against Northern Ireland. Sami Khedira's goal wrapped up proceedings.
A happy Julian Draxler after opening accounts for Germany against Northern Ireland. Sami Khedira's goal wrapped up proceedings.PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOVER • Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has said that a rampant Germany are almost impossible to stop, after the world champions' dominant 2-0 win in their Group C World Cup qualifier.

The Germans made it three wins from three qualifiers for the 2018 Finals in Russia, with first-half goals by Julian Draxler and Sami Khedira sealing the routine win in Hanover.

Germany are yet to even concede a goal in their qualifiers and look in ominous form. They sit at the top of the group with nine points, two clear of Azerbaijan, who drew 0-0 away to the Czech Republic.

The Irish stay third on four points, and O'Neill said: "I'm not sure there is a system which can contain Germany at this moment in time. It's not just the tactical side of it, it's the enormous quality and athleticism of their players."

Germany coach Joachim Low revealed that he told his side they need to be "ruthless" and qualify for Russia as quickly as possible.

"This was a fairly effortless victory, I have to admit," said Low. "We took a quick lead and sat back after that. Ireland defended deep, it felt like a 1-9-1 formation at times."

However, he rejected the notion that his side are a class apart, especially after the disappointment of their semi-final defeat by France at Euro 2016.

"There have been teams who have managed to stop us, but the fact is we have managed to reach a level of domination," he added.

"We have a great level of variability with players changing positions to confound the opposition.

"We have different players scoring goals and we have managed to get a lot of depth to our game, plus we have a very settled side. We have really worked hard to get to this level."

He was nonetheless cautious about the victory and said that wins against Norway, the Czech Republic and now Northern Ireland meant Germany had not yet faced "category one" sides.

His side will travel to Russia next month for a fact-finding trip ahead of their involvement in the Confederations Cup next year and in anticipation of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Captain Manuel Neuer added that Germany must not get carried away. "We know from the last European Championship that anything can happen and we still have dangerous games ahead of us," he warned.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Germany can't be contained, says O'Neill'. Print Edition | Subscribe