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Germany-Northern Ireland 2018 World Cup Qualifiers Highlights, Takeaways, and Kroos Watch

The Germans punch their ticket to the 2018 World Cup

Northern Ireland v Germany - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Germany was a win away from officially qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The match took place at Windsor Park in Belfast, Ireland. Another clearly one-sided win for the Germans as they finally punched their ticket for the big show next year winning 3-1 in Northern Ireland. And to top it all off, Germany stays perfect in the qualifiers.

Highlights of the Match

It didn’t take Germany very long to score as Bayern Munich’s Sebastian Rudy scored an absolute scorcher from outside the box.

Joshua Kimmich set him up with the shot and earned himself another assist. It’s safe to say Germany, Bayern included, have their perfect replacement for the retired Philipp Lahm. Meanwhile, Rudy is making a good case to be a mainstay on the German roster, where he’ll most likely have to challenge ex-Madrid player Sami Khedira. Khedira and Mesut Özil were both out for the match which opened up the slot for Rudy. Jerome Boateng also made his international return to the squad in this match.

It would be a while before Germany struck a second time as Hoffenheim striker Sandro Wagner scored. Wagner had a couple shots miss and stopped respectively before finally getting over the hump and putting it in the back of the twine.

A great shot by Wagner who, most likely, will not start over Timo Werner or Mario Gomez in the World Cup squad. Nevertheless, he stated his case here as another reliable striker that Jogi Löw has available in his toolbox.

With Germany blanking Northern Ireland in the first half, it was time for them to finish off the home stretch. It wouldn’t be until the 86th minute of action when Joshua Kimmich tripled the lead. Already having a monster game, Kimmich added his name onto the scoresheet just for good measure.

Just a good play overall where Germany decided to make some cross passes that, unfortunately for Northern Ireland, came off a defender’s head and right onto Kimmich’s boot. Germany looked like their were going to clean sheet yet another team, but Northern Ireland wasn’t giving that up. Charlton Athletic’s Josh Magennis headed it past Ter Stegen to end his clean sheet.

Despite losing 3-1, Northern Ireland had some decent chances, specifically in the second half, that were stopped by Ter Stegen and the German defense. Germany didn’t play even close their actual squad, despite a few mainstays such as Müller and Kroos, and that didn’t seem like it affected them at all. Germany is so deep at almost every position of their team that allows them to have so many good options.

Takeaways

Even though it’s still only the qualifiers, Germany already look unstoppable. They’re unbeaten so far and haven’t lost an away qualifier match since 1934, which is remarkable. The fact they don’t have to play near a complete squad to qualify is another remarkable asset of Löw’s side. Players like Kroos don’t have to be the center of attention every match as say Bale does for Wales or Christian Eriksen does for Denmark. This is a program that is absolutely stacked and are an absolute joy to watch, even when they play teams that aren’t in the same league of talent.

Kroos Watch

Now we come to Kroos Watch where we take a look at how Toni fared in his international performance. Truthfully, there’s not a lot to write about him here. He wasn’t a standout, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but looked to be in good form. Before the match, it was reported that Toni is the leading accurate international passer in Europe, with 93% accuracy. This shows just how dominant he his in the midfield and just how much he contributes to the flow of play for both Real and Germany. He didn’t need to be the go-to-guy for Germany today, but he still held his own in the midfield and helped the potent German offense dictate their play against Northern Ireland. It’s certain Toni will return to the Madrid squad rather ecstatic after qualifying for the World Cup, which is just what Real wants.

Germany’s next match is Sunday against Azerbaijan, where they should be able to continue their streak of dominance and undefeated streak. They’ll be at home at the Fritz-Walter-Stadion in Kaiserslautern, Germany.