Germany look to continue their superb run-up to Russia 2018 away to Northern Ireland, who are certain to maintain their second place irrespective of the results.
Who should Joachim Löw put in the starting lineup for this World Cup qualifier?
Germany has such great depth in defence, especially in terms of goalkeepers and centre-backs. I would think it’s all but certain that Joachim Löw will start with Marc André ter Stegen in goal due to the absence of captain Manuel Neuer (broken foot).
Veteran centre-backs Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels instil a lot of calm in defence. Joshua Kimmich is a no-brainer as a right-back and has been performing consistently well for both club and country. Despite having pedigree enough to play in midfield, Löw has always seen Kimmich as a perfect successor to Lahm in that position. Marvin Plattenhardt will be the left-back, showing good form in the Bundesliga for Hertha BSC.
The ringmaster and deep-lying playmaker Toni Kroos headlines the midfield along with the ever-dependant Sebastian Rudy, the passing abilities of both these midfielders is definitely going to be a nightmare for Northern Ireland to defend against.
I would presume that we Germany will play Julian Draxler and Leroy Sané on the wings. They provide pace, skilful dribbling and accurate crosses for the target man. Draxler among both is excellent at cutting inside and allowing an overlapping space for Joshua Kimmich for him to do what he does best.
Thomas Müller to finally get his licence to play as a Raumdeuter behind the central striker and make those unpredictable runs causing all sorts of problems for the Northern Ireland side.
The problem, as has often been with Germany, is finding a world class number 9. Lots of players have been tried in the position and even a false 9 adopted many-a-times to address the problem. Both Mario Götze and Mario Gomez are injured. Timo Werner, despite being named in the squad, has now been withdrawn for both the qualifiers due to a neck problem.
In such a situation, Lars Stindl and Thomas Müller are both capable of filling that role but I would be playing the ex-Bayern man Sandro Wagner for the position due to his phenomenal aerial prowess and lack of other suitable options.
This should ensure three more points in the bag for Die Mannschaft.