Germany face a must-win match against Georgia in Euro 2016 qualifiers | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 28.03.2015
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Germany face a must-win match against Georgia in Euro 2016 qualifiers

It's put-up-or-shut-up time for the World Champions. After two successive disappointing results, Germany need a win against Georgia in the qualifiers for the 2016 European Championship.

Ahead of Sunday's match in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, Germany coach Joachim Löw was trotting out the martial metaphors.

"The all-deciding thing is to take the three points," Löw told reporters ahead of the game. "This is the sort of team you have to pin back, play into the ground, beat down and force to their knees. It's not going to be simple."

Löw's rather drastic choice of words reflected the fact that Germany's 2016 European Championship qualification campaign has thus far been pretty lackluster, even lackadaisical. The World Cup winners suffered a surprising loss to Poland and a home draw to the Republic of Ireland in the previous two competitive matches.

That has left them second in Group D, level on points with Ireland and Scotland. Löw's remarks can be read as less an attempt to intimidate his opponents than as a signal to his own players that nap time is over, especially after a dozy performance in a 2-2 draw in a friendly versus Australia mid-week.

"We'll be revving up our engines compared with Australia," the German coach promised.

Manuel Neuer Training

Neuer will be back between the posts for Germany after sitting out the Australia friendly

Expectations running high

Germany's squad members are taking a more relaxed attitude.

"We're not going to let ourselves be driven crazy," Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said. "We've been around for a long time and have very experienced players. We'll qualify."

Neuer is likely right in his estimation. The expansion of the European Championship from 16 to 24 teams has made it extremely unlikely that any of Europe's bigger football nations will miss out on the competition.

Meanwhile, despite the presence of a number of Georgian players in the German Bundesliga in seasons past, most prominently at Löw's old club Freiburg, Georgia is only ranked 126th in the world.

"If we play the way we're capable of and take the attitude that we need to work just as hard as in all our World Cup matches, then it might be quite easy," Germany midfielder Toni Kroos said.

Georgia's lone points in group D came against Gibraltar. The Georgians lost their most recent qualifying match 4-0 to Poland.

Freundschaftsspiel Deutschland vs. Spanien

Real Madrid midfielder - and his deadly free kicks - will be just one of threats Georgia will have to deal with

No experiments in Tbilisi

Löw did a lot of fiddling in the Australia friendly, switching his defense around from a back four to a back three and resting lynchpins like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller. That will come to an end, as Germany seek to consolidate second place in the group and put pressure on leaders Poland.

Schweinsteiger and Müller should be back in the starting eleven, and the same is true of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng in central defense. Benedikt Höwedes and Löw favorite Shkodran Mustafi are tipped as the fullbacks, while Sami Khedira could join Schweinsteiger in defensive midfield.

Kroos will very likely get the nod up front, joining Müller, Mesut Özil, Marco Reus and Mario Götze, as Löw again fields an eleven without a classic center forward. Injuries should not be an issue with only Holger Badstuber and Karim Bellarabi out with minor knocks.

The Nationalelf will be hoping for an early goal to quiet what is sure to be a rambunctious crowd in Tbilisi and open the floodgates. The Georgians, by contrast, will seek to absorb the early pressure, frustrate the visitors and try to catch them napping on counter-attacks. But it will be a huge task for a team whose main striker plays for Aarhus and whose keeper plays his trade in Oraklion to get anything against the reigning world champions. Assuming the latter show up in the Georgian capital wide awake and ready to go.

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