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Germany target ‘Perfect 12’ on road to World Cup in Russia

Berlin (AFP) – Germany are not only targeting another win in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland but want a perfect 12 points on the road to Russia with wins in both of their remaining games this year.

Victories away to Norway and at home to the Czech Republic by the same 3-0 scorelines leave Germany top of Group C and the world champions are in no mood to drop points against Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland in Hanover.

A win over the Irish, then a fourth straight victory, at minnows San Marino on November 11, would yield a maximum 12 points from four qualifiers leaving Germany in pole position to qualify for 2018 World Cup. 

“We want to do it all again and make sure we have 12 points in November, then we would be in a very comfortable situation in the table,” said defender Mats Hummels.

Germany top the group on goal difference from surprise package Azerbaijan, who have also won their opening two games.

Northern Ireland are third after beating San Marino 4-0 in Belfast on Saturday following last month’s goalless draw against the Czech Republic in Prague.

After Germany beat the Irish 1-0 in their Euro 2016 group match in June, coach Joachim Loew expects another hard-fought match.

“The team is passionate, the players have a big heart,” said Loew.

“A large part of their Euro 2016 squad will also be in Hanover, so we know what to expect.”

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is expected to start having made his first appearance in the famous white shirt for nearly a year, following injury, against the Czechs.

Loew is spoilt for choice.

Defenders Jerome Boateng and Jonas Hector, plus winger Julian Draxler are fit despite picking up knocks in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Czechs in Hamburg.

Thomas Mueller has now scored four goals in his last two internationals after brace against the Czechs on Saturday.

The World Cup qualifier in Hanover is a chance to exorcise a few bad memories for die Mannschaft.

Last November’s friendly against the Netherlands was called off hours before kick-off over security concerns, just four days after the German team spent the night at the Stade de France due to the terror attacks in Paris on November 13.

“It will be a little bit at the back of the mind, but I don’t believe it will lead to any unpleasant feelings,” added Hummels.

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