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Five things to be optimistic about ahead of Ireland vs Germany.
The possibility of Ireland not playing 4-4-2.
For a long time it felt like Giovanni Trapattoni and Roy Hodgson were playing ’4-4-2 chicken’ daring each other to keep using the out dated formation that saw teams out-numbered in the centre of midfield. Hodgson eventually gave in to the conventional wisdom that 4-4-2 was no longer viable route to success in international football and now it looks like Giovanni Trapattoni is going to do the same, for this game at least.
The team that has been named for the game looks like it will have James McCarthy, Keith Andrews and Keith Fahey playing centrally with Aiden McGeady and Simon Cox in the wide positions.
Many people were clamouring for Trap to make this change during the European Championships to prevent us from being overrun in midfield by better teams, it seems that he has finally seen sense and we will see Ireland playing 4-5-1 this evening.
Young players in the squad.
We’ve got some exciting young players in this squad. OK, so it might be by default due to injuries but they are in there. There was a wave of optimism following Robbie Brady’s excellent performance against Oman and now he has had further chances to impress Trapattoni. It’s also good to see creative midfield talent (which we badly lack) like Conor Clifford being noticed by management. Also, Ciaran Clark who it seemed was on Trapattoni’s blacklist has made the squad.
Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy getting the chance to start a massive game for Ireland is also a major progressive move for Trapattoni. They are both players whom many feared would never get the chance they deserved under this regime.
Robbie Keane won’t be playing in an unsuited lone striker role.
We did a poll shortly after Robbie Keane’s absence from the starting line-up due to an achilles injury was announced. It was to determine who people would like to see start in this stead. Shane Long overwhelmingly won the poll but Trapattoni deemed that Jonathan Walters would be the better fit. Along with poll came a real sense that people no longer rated Keane and preferred the Ireland team without him. If, as it seems highly likely, we do play 4-5-1 tonight then Keane would have been totally unsuited to playing up front on his own. He’s not that type of player. He can’t hold the ball up like Jonathan Walters is capable of doing and he can no longer provide the type of manic energy that you get from Shane Long.
He’s still capable of scoring goals but when your backs are to the wall like Ireland’s will be tonight then a player like Robbie Keane is a luxury. Maybe his injury will be a blessing in disguise because there is no way that Trapattoni would have dropped him otherwise.
This Germany team has never won anything.
There are numerous exciting players in this Germany squad like Gotze, Reus and Ozil but none of them have ever won anything in international football. They lost in the quater-finals of World Cup 2010 and the semi-finals of Euro 2012. For the talent that they have, you could argue that they are international underachievers.
A bunch of bottlers there for the taking.
And Ireland actually has a decent record against Germany. We’ve won 33% of our games against them.
Germany missing big name players
You may not have realised this but Germany are missing many big name stars ahead of this crucial clash.
Illustrious names like Gerd Muller, Lothar Matthaus, Jurgen Klinsmann, Franz Beckenbauer, Matthias Sammer, Oliver Bierhoff, Rudi Voller, Paul Breitner, Oliver Kahn, Andreas Moller, Michael Ballack, Andreas Brehme, Stefan Effenberg, Dietmar Hamann, Thomas Hassler, Thomas Helmer, Jens Jeremies, Jurgen Kohler, Jens, Lehmann, Sepp Maier, Stefan Reuter, Karl-Heinz Riedle, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Christian Ziege.
That’s a lot of players to be without.
I’m starting to fancy our chances.