Germans crave solidity against Ireland | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 11.10.2012
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Germans crave solidity against Ireland

Ireland has always been a difficult opponent for the German team. But coach Joachim Löw is confident that Germany will manage to solve the problems in the defense and come home with a victory on Friday.

All you need for a perfect defense are two fast and experienced central defenders and two skilled and versatile wingbacks. Dead easy.

But such a formation hasn't been something Joachim Löw has managed to establish since he took over as head coach of Germany's national team six years ago. So he's had to admit that he has no wealth of talented players for these positions at his fingertips.

"We have a certain shortage there," he confessed frankly ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier against Ireland.

There are holes in the back four this week that can't be plugged easily: Captain Philipp Lahm has been suspended after too many yellow cards, Lars Bender and Mats Hummels are injured, so Löw needs to juggle things around.

Central defender Jerome Boateng will probably play at right-back. On the left, Dortmund's Marcel Schmelzer may get another chance, despite his hapless performance last time around.

Bayern's Holger Badstuber (16.04.2012) Foto: Sven Hoppe dpa/lby +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++ pixel

Bayern's Holger Badstuber is the only fixture in Löw's defense plans

Bayern's Holger Badstuber and Arsenal's Per Mertesacker will man the central defense.

Irish fighting spirit and technical shortcomings

Fans should not expect a fine technical game, but rather a full-on physical battle. "The Irish are good fighters. We have to hold our own," said Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos. And his teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger warned that winning would be tough.

Indeed, looking at the two teams' previous encounters things seem to be pretty even: Germany managed to win seven of the 16 matches, and lost five.

Montpellier's French midfielder Jamel Saihi, left, challenges for the ball with Arsenal's German forward Lukas Podolski, during the Champions League Group B soccer match between Montpellier and Arsenal, at the La Mosson stadium, in Montpellier, southern France, Tuesday, Sept.18, 2012. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Lukas Podolski has gotten off to a good start with Arsenal

Germany's Lukas Podolski said he wants to make sure Germany take home three points on Friday night. But it is unclear what his own role would be in that. After a weak performance in the German squad at the Euro 2012, he lost his permanent place in the lineup.

Podolski has however started off well this season with his new club Arsenal in London and that has boosted his confidence. "I definitely want to play," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"That is my personal goal. But of course the decision is up to the coach, and I will accept it," an upbeat Podolski continued, stressing that he'd be willing to play any position he's offered – even defender.

Team spirit vs pressure from above

It remains to be seen whether Podolski's upbeat manner will catch on. As it stands the mood in the squad is rather sour.

German national football team's midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger dribbles with the ball during a training session in Frankfurt am Main, on October 9, 2012 ahead of World Cup 2014 qualifiers. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/GettyImages)

Bastian Schweinsteiger has made the headlines with criticism of his squad

Bastian Schweinsteiger made the headlines this week with veiled criticism of a lacking team spirit in the national team. With Bayern Munich, he observed, the players on the bench jump up and applaud after someone scores a goal. That, he said, did not happen in the national squad at the Euro 2012.

Since then pundits have been wondering whether this reveals a rift – maybe between the large contingent of Bayern and Dortmund players in the national team.

The Bayern midfielder's remarks also came following powerful Bayern President Uli Hoeness' latest attack on Löw. He demanded that the mild-mannered national team coach should get tough to get more out of his talented stars, and that he abandon his concept of flat hierarchies.

"He should not worry about spreading a good mood but rather piling on the pressure," Hoeness told Der Spiegel magazine.

Uli Hoeneß von Foto: Patrick Seeger dpa/lsw Schlagworte Fußball, Fußball_1._Bundesliga_Erste_Bundesliga, Männer_Herren, Sport, Personen, Saison 2011-12, 22. Spieltag

Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness is known not to mince his words

Löw has since rejected all criticism of his management style.

All eyes are now on him and his team which has failed to impress in its Brazil 2014 campaign so far, achieving a lackluster 3-0 over Faroe Islands and a narrow 2-1 over Austria in their easy group C.

Germany play the Republic of Ireland at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Friday then host Sweden at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, October 16.

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