FIFA World Cup Qualifying Preview: Germany v Republic of Ireland
By Football News
Germany will earn automatic FIFA World Cup qualification with a game to spare if they beat the managerless Republic of Ireland on Friday.
Joachim Low’s men top Group C of the European qualification section, five points ahead of second-placed Sweden with just two games to go, and have not lost to Ireland - whose boss Giovanni Trapattoni left last month - since 1994.
However, the pool leaders are without a number of players for the encounter in Cologne, with Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Marco Reus among those regular squad members missing through injury.
These injuries will not serve as an excuse for Low though, as he has insisted his side will go all-out for the three points they need at the RheinEnergieStadion.
"Our starting position in the group is good," he said. "We have a lot of trust in the players we have nominated and want to quickly qualify for Brazil.
"Our clear aim is to seal our ticket with a win against Ireland in front of a home crowd."
Trapattoni's departure after five years in charge of Ireland came after the country's 1-0 defeat to Austria on September 10, which all but ended their hopes of making the play-offs.
However, caretaker boss Noel King will want to finish the qualifiers on a high against Germany and Kazakhstan, as doing so could help them move above Austria into third and improve their coefficient ranking for future campaigns.
History is not on their side though, as Germany won the last meeting between the teams in Dublin last October 6-1 and have lost just twice in eight games against Ireland overall.
Forward Jonathan Walters and goalkeeper Kieren Westwood are both unavailable for King through injury, although captain Robbie Keane - who has 60 goals for his country - is in line to win his 130th cap in Cologne.