Berlin: Germany face Ireland away on Thursday and a point in Dublin would be enough to confirm their Euro 2016 qualification, but the world champions want a win to stop Poland topping the group. "We don't want to play for the draw.
Germany's head coach Joachim Loew (C) talks to players during a training session on the eve of their UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying football match against Ireland in Dublin. Pic/AFP
Our aim must be to win the game with our qualities," said Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan ahead of the Aviva Stadium clash. Germany are two points clear at the top of Group D, but a draw in Dublin could allow Poland to claim top spot if they beat Scotland in Glasgow on the same night by virtue of their superior goal difference.
The Germans are bracing themselves against Martin O'Neil's Irish, who earned a point with a 90th-minute equaliser to seal a 1-1 draw in Gelsenkirchen last October. "We know what to expect, we have to stay as patient as we did in the 3-2 win in Scotland and wait for our chances," said Germany centre-back Jerome Boateng.
The Bayern Munich star's two long balls led to goals in the Bavarians' 5-1 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund in Sunday's top-of-the-table Bundesliga clash, and he was part of the Germany team which beat Ireland 6-1 in a World Cup qualifier in October 2012. "I hope things will go the same way for us as they did back then," said Boateng, who is set to win his 55th cap.
Lukas Podolski has been ruled out of both the Ireland match and Sunday's home game against Georgia in Leipzig with an injury to his left ankle and the striker returned to his club Galatasaray for treatement on Tuesday.
Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi is struggling to be fit due to a shoulder problem. Dortmund winger Marco Reus is set to feature off the bench, but is unlikely to start as he works his way back after a toe injury. "We know that we can count on him," said Germany coach Joachim Loew. Ireland are third in the group behind Poland and need to beat Joachim Loew's Germany to keep alive their dreams of qualifying directly for next year's tournament in France.
"The Irish will come at us with even more bravery and they have players of a very high quality," insisted Loew. Germany will have just two training sessions together before flying to Dublin, but despite the short preparation time, the world champions will be ready, insisted Gundogan.
"We're used to it. The most important thing is that when the kick-off comes we are all 100 percent ready to give everything we have. And we will do," said the defensive midfielder. Ireland's goalkeeper Shay Given paid tribute to his opposite number Manuel Neuer but said he is confident his team-mates will enjoy success in front of goal.
"The Scots scored two past him last month. Sometimes you think he's unbeatable but he's human like the rest of us," said the 39-year-old Given. "We can hopefully get a few goals against him. "He'll go down as one of the best of all time -- he's a class act."