The Republic of Ireland have been hit by an injury crisis as they welcome Germany to the Aviva Stadium for a crunch World Cup qualifier on Friday. Captain Robbie Keane has become the latest player to be ruled out, following in the footsteps of fellow striker Kevin Doyle, midfielder Glenn Whelan and central-defensive duo Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger.
It is a tall ask then for manager Giovanni Trapattoni to get a result against a strong Germany side. If he can manage at least a point, though, it may help ease the negativity that has engulfed the Irish side since a dismal showing at Euro 2012.
Their opening World Cup qualifier, in Kazakhstan last month, did little to persuade Irish fans that the Italian is the man to lead the side forward. Behind for much of the encounter, Ireland’s blushes were spared by two late goals.
With Sweden also in Group C, Ireland know that it will be a tough ask to even secure a playoff place en route to Brazil.
Despite their enviable array of players, the mood surrounding the German side is also not quite what it might be. Germany had their own disappointment during the summer with a lackluster performance in a semifinal defeat to Italy when many observers had long since anticipated a final between Germany and Spain.
Germany have followed that up with two-straight victories to begin their World Cup qualifying campaign, although they endured a nervy 2-1 win in Austria. The talent at coach Joachim Low’s disposal is not in doubt, although, in a reversal of stereotypes, it is the players’ mentality that is now being questioned.
Low will be without captain Philipp Lahm for the trip to Dublin, along with fellow defender Mats Hummels and striker Mario Gomez. Mario Gotze and Lukas Podolski are also doubts and may have to settle for places on the bench.
D: Coleman, O’Shea, O’Dea, Ward
M: Walters, McCarthy, Andrews, Fahey, McGeady
D: Boateng, Howedes, Badstuber, Schmelzer
M: Khedira, Kroos
Muller, Ozil, Reus
Prediction: Ireland will be hoping for another of the backs-against-the-wall performance that has become synonymous with Trapattoni’s reign. Many may argue that some the injuries Ireland have suffered are not so much of a weakness but rather an opportunity for fringe players to finally be given a chance. However, the disruption to their regular defense could well be a blow with Germany sure to repeatedly go on the attack.
Germany may not be firing on all cylinders of late, but they should have just too much quality for Ireland.
Ireland 1-2 Germany
Where to watch: The World Cup qualifier kicks-off in Dublin at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be available on Gol TV, with a live stream, which you view at your own discretion, available here.