Ruthless Germany sound warning

Germany's Sebastian Rudy (left) celebrates with team-mate Joshua Kimmich after opening the scoring against Northern Ireland on Thursday. Later, Rudy told reporters that the Germans were going to Russia to successfully defend their World Cup title.
Germany's Sebastian Rudy (left) celebrates with team-mate Joshua Kimmich after opening the scoring against Northern Ireland on Thursday. Later, Rudy told reporters that the Germans were going to Russia to successfully defend their World Cup title.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

After ending N. Ireland's proud home record, they plan to retain their World Cup title

BELFAST • Joachim Low was alarmed by what he sees as a lack of quality rolling off the Bundesliga production line.

His rivals, however, will not be sharing that sentiment in Russia next year, after Germany secured their place at the World Cup Finals with a flawless qualifying record and a swift, convincing 3-1 win over Northern Ireland.

Superb early goals from Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner inflicted a first competitive home defeat on Michael O'Neill's team in more than four years while demonstrating the depth of class at Low's disposal, despite his suggestions to the contrary.

Germany arrived in Belfast without several established names but departed with their remarkable 83-year unbeaten record in away World Cup qualifiers extended to 47 matches.

"We're off to Russia to tear it up. We want to successfully defend the World Cup title," said Rudy.

Victory for the world champions was not in doubt from the moment Rudy scored his first international goal in the second minute.

O'Neill's game plan was based on containment, a ploy reflected in his line-up and the 10-versus-six training sessions designed to replicate Germany's likely dominance.

 

  • 19
    Germany will feature in the World Cup for the 19th time. Only Brazil (21) will have more appearances in Russia.

It was gone in 80 seconds. Wagner, denied a headed goal by the post, got his goal in the 20th minute with a curling left-footed strike.

Joshua Kimmich gave them a three-goal cushion late on, but Josh Magennis' stoppage-time header may be more than a consolation for Northern Ireland should goal difference determine who qualify for the play-offs.

 

  • 47
    Number of matches that Germany have been unbeaten away from home in World Cup qualifiers. The run dates back to March 1934.

Results elsewhere could deliver Northern Ireland - already made sure of a top-two finish in Group C before Thursday - a berth before they face Norway tomorrow. Germany, perversely, ensured the Irish will head to Oslo with confidence.

"One thing I'll say about playing Germany," O'Neill said, "is that whoever you play afterwards seems a lot easier. I'm not sure there is a system that can contain Germany.

"The quality of their play at times was breathtaking. We had four Premier League players (Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt, Steven Davis and Jonny Evans) in our team and they come up against that level of movement only when they play the top teams."

Germany have scored 38 goals and conceded three in qualifying.

Low, on the eve of the clash, claimed that he was "alarmed" and "embarrassed" that six German top-flight sides had lost in Europe last week, but poor club form has not affected the world champions.

The Germany coach said: "I'm happy. We knew the Northern Irish would play very defensively and they know how to do that well.

"But we began well and we let them have very few chances."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Ruthless Germany sound warning'. Print Edition | Subscribe