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05th Oct 2015

Making a case for the defence: How Ireland’s backline compares to that of the World Cup winners

How many Intertotos have ye won?

Mikey Stafford

David and Goliath has nothing on this one.

A Euro 2016 play-off place within their grasp, the Republic of Ireland welcome Germany to the Aviva on Thursday.

World Cup champions versus Euro 2012 whipping boys, the second ranked team in the world against No54, a side stacked with Champions League winners ready to batter the Premier League also-rans and Championship regulars.

Well, here at SportJOE we have more optimism and think when you really burrow down into the make-up of these sides you will discover that Martin O’Neill’s men measure up quite well against Joachim Low’s group leaders.

In Part I of our man-by man breakdown we look at how Ireland’s goalkeeper and defence compare to their German counterparts.

Shay Given v Manuel Neuer

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 29: Shay Given of Republic of Ireland in action during the Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Republic of Ireland and Polandat Aviva Stadium on March 29, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Current Form: While Neuer has started (and won) 12 matches for club and country this term, he has conceded seven goals. Shay Given, on the other hand, is yet to concede a goal this season. Two Euro 2016 Qualifiers, against Gibraltar and Georgia, plus a Stoke City Carling Cup tie at Fulham, played and three clean sheets.

Career Pedigree: Outside of the 2011 German Cup he won with Schalke, Neuer has won all his club titles (one German Cup, three Bundesligas, one Champions League, UEFA Supercup and Club World Cup) with Bayern Munich. Given’s First Division Title, Intertoto Cup and FA Cup were won with Sunderland, Newcastle and Manchester City respectively, which is way more diverse and interesting.

Recent Social Networking: Break-ins versus shut outs.

David Meyler v Emre Can

UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier 14/10/2014 Republic of Ireland David Meyler Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Current Form: While Hull City are flying high in the Championship (fifth), Can will be coming into international week under something of a cloud as Liverpool fell to 10th in the Premier League table and their manager Brendan Rodgers was fired. On a personal level however, while Meyler has been on the bench for Hull’s last two games, Can displayed his creative capabilities with a wonderful assist at Goodison Park – meeting Gerard Deulofeu’s cross on the volley to set up Romelu Lukaku for Everton’s equaliser.

Career Pedigree: While Can was a peripheral squad player at Bayern Munich for their quadruple-winning season in 2012-13, Meyler has displayed remarkable determination to fight back from two cruciate knee injuries and play in an FA Cup final. If he was a rugby player we would chalk it down to his GAA background. Was also once head-butted by Alan Pardew.

Recent Social Networking: FIFA 14 versus Super Mario

John O’Shea v Mats Hummels

UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier 14/10/2014 Republic of Ireland David Meyler Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Current Form: There’s no sugar-coating the season John O’Shea is having at club level. International football has been his respite, with the only clean sheets of the season coming against Gibraltar and Georgia. In seven appearances for Sunderland, O’Shea has seen the net billow 16 times… no wonder Dick Advocaat left. It’s not all sweetness and light over at Dortmund either, who have conceded eight goals in three matches. Granted, four of those were scored by Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller – when is O’Shea going to have to face attackers of that quality?

Career Pedigree: With his five Premier League titles, Champions League winners medal, three League Cups and Club World Cup, O’Shea might feel sorry for Hummels, if the German didn’t have that World Cup triumph to go with his pair of Bundesliga titles.

Recent Social Networking: Chip shots versus three-pointers

Richard Keogh v Jerome Boateng

UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier 14/11/2014 Republic of Ireland Richard Keogh Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Current Form: Derby County have risen to seventh in the Championship after a poor start to the season, while Bayern Munich continue to dominate in the really, really, really competitive and compelling Bundesliga.

Career Pedigree: Richard Keogh has won player of the year awards at four different clubs – Bristol City, Carlisle United, Coventry City and Derby County. All 10 of Boateng’s major honours (see shopping list of other Bayern players plus add Man City FA Cup) have come as part of a team.

Recent Social Networking: Sobering interview versus Oktoberfest

Robbie Brady v Jonas Hector

UEFA European Championship 2016 Qualifying Round, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 7/9/2015 Republic of Ireland vs Georgia Ireland's Robbie Brady Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Current Form: The Cologne full-back has made the left full-back place his own since his surprise call-up last November. Unlike most of his team-mates, Hector has – like Brady – experienced life in the lower divisions before Cologne won promotion in 2014. Unlike Brady, he is not a converted winger.

Career Pedigree: Hector, 25, is one of the few players in this Germany team not dripping in medals, but should he continue to excel in this German side a move to Bayern Munich an as yet unknown Champions League club will surely materialise. Which will put him on a par with Brady, who started his career with Manchester United.

Recent Social Networking: Selfless praise of Wes versus Selfies and signatures

See? Things aren’t so bleak. Tomorrow we see how the German midfield and attack stacks up against Wes and the lads.


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