Republic of Ireland welcome reigning world champions Germany to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Thursday night, hoping to shock the Group D leaders in their bid to finish inside the top two automatic qualifying places for next summer’s UEFA European Championship.
Martin O’Neill’s men face a crucial double-header in the next four days; first entertaining Joachim Low’s world beaters before visiting current runners-up Poland on Sunday night in Warsaw.
A win for the Irish, in either fixture, would guarantee them a third-place finish in Group D and a play-off spot for France’s Euro 2016.
The last meeting between the two countries was back in October, when Sunderland centre-half John O’Shea scored a dramatic 94th minute equaliser in Gelsenkirchen to snatch a point from the Germans after Toni Kroos’ second-half opener.
However, the last contest between Ireland and Germany at the Aviva Stadium ended in a completely different light for Thursday’s hosts.
The hosts were humiliated 6-1 on their home turf, with both Marco Reus and Toni Kroos netting doubles, whilst further strikes from Mesut Ozil and Miroslav Klose rubbed salt in Irish wounds, despite Andy Keogh managing to pull back a late consolation.
Ahead of the 11th meeting between the two nations, Everton full-back Seamus Coleman has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, although the medical staff are hopeful he will be fit to face Poland on Sunday.
Derby County defender Cyrus Christie is poised to deputise at right-back for Coleman in the meantime.
Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan has seemingly recovered from a heel problem and is expected start, especially with fellow midfielders Glenn Whelan and James McClean missing out through suspension.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s all-time leading goalscorer Robbie Keane is set to face Germany, should he be selected, despite the birth of his second son on Monday.
Asked whether the Los Angeles Galaxy striker would be available for the crucial game in Dublin, assistant manager Roy Keane comically responded, “Yes, why wouldn’t he be?
“He didn’t have the baby. Unless he’s breast-feeding he should be all right.”
Group Positions: Republic of Ireland – 3rd (15pts); Germany 1st (19pts)
Last Meeting: Germany 1-1 Republic of Ireland, October 2014
Key Men: Republic of Ireland – Robbie Keane, Germany – Thomas Muller
Form: Republic of Ireland – WWDDDW, Germany – WWWLWD
Shoot Says: Republic of Ireland 1-2 Germany