Buoyant Germany set sights on N. Ireland World Cup qualifier


Berlin (AFP) – Germany coach Joachim Loew wants the ‘same again’ for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland following his side’s demolition of the Czech Republic.

Thomas Mueller scored twice and Toni Kroos also netted as Germany dominated the Czechs 3-0 on Saturday night.

It was an impressive display from the hosts in Hamburg and the scoreline could have been much higher as Julian Draxler, Mario Goetze and Mueller all missed clear chances.

Defenders Jerome Boateng and Jonas Hector suffered knocks, but Loew hopes the pair will be fit to face the Irish.

“Jerome took a knock, Jonas has a slight muscular problem,” said Loew, who “assumes that (neither) is not quite so bad”.

Germany’s head coach now wants a repeat performance against Northern Ireland in Hanover to preserve their perfect record and stay top of Group C.

“We need the same determination, the same amount of running and the same precision in our passes,” said Loew.

Loew expects the Irish, who beat minnows San Marino 4-0 in Belfast on Saturday, to be “even more cautious” than the Czechs.

“They (the Czechs) tried to interfere with our game, at least early on, and so we have to put in exactly the same sort of display to be successful,” said Loew.

“You could see after an hour that we had run our opponents ragged.”

The 56-year-old said he was pleased to see the likes of Mueller and Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Goetze, who was playing up front with Mario Gomez injured, attacking deep in the box.

Loew said he was happy with the constant pressure his side exerted on the Czech goal to combat the visitors’ dogged defence.

He expects the Irish to defend just as deep.

Mueller has yet to score a goal in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich this season after six German league matches.

But having also netted twice in the 3-0 win over Norway at the start of September, he already has four goals in their two 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

– ‘Inner voice ‘ –

The self-assured 27-year-old, the top scorer at the 2010 World Cup, was full of irony after some suggestions in the German media of a mini crisis given his lack of league goals for Bayern.

“I was in a tragic situation before the game, so I was really glad I could get out of this mess,” he said, tongue planted firmly in cheek, having now scored 36 goals in 80 internationals.

“The football business is like that sometimes,” he added having failed to score for Germany at both the finals of Euro 2016 and 2012.

“I try to let myself be influenced as little as possible by the positive as well as the negative moments and just continue on my way.

“I listen to my coaches and my inner voice, and if a good tip from a journalist is there, I will listen to it too.”

The win in Hamburg was an impressive team performance, especially from centre-backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, who repeatedly shut down the Czechs attack and put in a series of superb passes.

After Germany suffered defeats away to Poland and the Republic of Ireland in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, 3-0 wins over both Norway and now the Czechs have buoyed the team.

“Jerome and I kept finding good solutions to problems at the back,” said Hummels.

“That was partly because our team-mates put in some good lines of running.

“We didn’t start our last qualifying campaign so well (after a 2-0 defeat to Poland early in the campaign) and we really want to do things differently this year.

“At the moment, we are very focussed and things look good.”

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