Republic of Ireland 1 - 6 GermanyFri, Oct 12 2012
With half an hour to go, the fans let their feelings known. Germany had just scored a fifth through Toni Kroos and as a chorus of boos rung out and empty seats began to appear, the heads in green shirts bowed to the ground. Despondent, disbelieving, disgraced. It got worse, of course, on a night best described as embarrassing.
Yes, Ireland did well for the opening third of the game but from the moment Marco Reus broke the deadlock, the home team were left chasing shadows. Say what you like about the injuries, the retirements and the manager, but if you picked an all-time Ireland XI, they would still have struggled against this majestic team.
As Simon Kuper detailed in his excellent book, Soccernomics, Ireland overachieve for a country of its size. Population wise, the sport’s ranking in the country compared to other games, and a host of other factors, we are punching above our weight to be in the top 30 sides in the world. Against the second best team in the world, with resources light-years ahead of Ireland’s, it would have been foolish to expect a result.
That’s not to make excuses, however, because defensively Ireland were disgraceful in front of a packed Aviva stadium. The supporters who forked out their hard earned cash deserved better than this from their team. It was, once Mesut Ozil scored Germany’s third, excruciating viewing for the home support.
For a neutral however, Germany’s play had to be admired. Swift but always controlled, they carved the home defence open like a hot knife through butter. When a player of Lukas Podolski’s calibre can be introduce into the game with 25 minutes to play, it painted a clear picture of the gulf in class between the two sides.
Believe it or not, Ireland started strongly. Keith Fahey perched himself right in front of the back four, and that allowed Keith Andrews more attacking freedom, the side’s best performer in Euro 2012 scuffing a good early opportunity wide from just over 20 yards.
Germany, while as expected dominated the possession percentages, seldom created an opportunity up until the half hour mark, when the game changed thanks to Reus’ opener in the 32nd minute. Certainly the Irish defence could have been more decisive, with both full-backs, Stephen Ward and Seamus Coleman having ample opportunity to get rid of the danger.
Yet there was a certain case of justice for Reus as 60 seconds earlier he was denied what looked like a stonewall penalty when going down inside the area. Instead he was booked by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli but revenge was his in the next attack.
Indeed, Ireland failed to make it out of their half for five minutes after that, Thomas Muller driving well over, while a graphic popped up inside the ground detailing that the visitors had 98% of the ball in that spell.
It was with little surprise then that Reus found the net again with a tidy finish to the far bottom corner on 40, after the German midfield waltzed through the spine of the Irish team with a half dozen zig-zag passes. A moment of beauty and control, but Ireland’s defending once again left a lot to be desired.
That the only change at the break came from Germany – Kroos replacing Sami Khedira in an attack-minded swap – highlighted Trapattoni’s frustrating lack of urgency. Ireland were crying out for a partner to Jonathan Walters, but with Andrews the most advanced attacker, the home side’s options remained limited.
When O’Dea hauled down Klose nine minutes into the second half, it was curtains with Ozil neatly sending a helpless Keiren Westwood the wrong way. The floodgates were well and truly opened and the ease with which Klose netted the fourth was a sight to behold. Westwood rushed off his line and the Lazio striker slotted home, with O’Dea’s feeble efforts of clearing the danger a sight of a completely different sort.
Kroos struck the fifth home with aplomb, before he then made it six, making it Ireland’s worst ever home defeat, beating a 5-0 loss to Spain in 1931, despite Keogh adding a consolation to the records with the final touch of the game.
Republic of Ireland: Keiren Westwood; Seamus Coleman, John O’Shea, Darren O’Dea, Stephen Ward; Aiden McGeady (Andy Keogh 68), James McCarthy, Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey, Simon Cox (Robbie Brady 83); Jonathan Walters.
Subs not used: David Forde, Paul McShane, Shane Long, David Meyler, Stephen Kelly, Marc Wilson, Ciaran Clark, Conor Clifford, Darren Randolph.
Booked: O’Dea, Long.
Germany: Manuel Neuer; Jerome Boateng, Per Mertesacker, Holger Badstuber, Marcel Schmelzer; Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira (Toni Kroos 46), Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marco Reus (Lukas Podolski 65); Miroslav Klose (Andre Schurrle 72).
Subs not used: Ron-Robert Zieler, Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen, Benedikt Howedes, Heiko Westermann.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy).
Official attendance: 55,000
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Marco Reus (Germany).
Alan Smith has been writing for ExtraTime since 2008. He works as a full-time journalist based in Cork, working as a sub-editor for TCM and freelancing for a range of national titles. Follow him on twitter @alansmith90.