Sunday night sees the final games being played of the international break and with that comes Germany’s away tie in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan really are minnows of European football having never qualified for a major tournament in their history of European football. Having no extraordinary players will not help carry them to this feat in the next few tournaments but they do find themselves currently sitting in 3rd position on 7 points level with Northern Ireland. It will be interesting to see if teams like Azerbaijan will qualify for the World Cup when it becomes a 48 team tournament instead of 32.
Germany looked a little lack lustre in what looked to be a testimonial game for Lukas Podolski who finished his international career with Germany by scoring an absolute thunderbolt of a shot past Joe Hart right into the top corner. The shot was described by Hart as a “f*cking good shot” but the goal that Podolski scored is the goal we’ve grown accustomed to him scoring more often than not. He will definitely be missed in the Germany side, and club sides too, as on his day can produce moments of magic such as that.
England looked okay and created a lot of chances against Germany in their experimental 3-4-3 deployed by Gareth Southgate which played Kyle Walker and Ryan Bertrand more as wing backs but failed to find the perfect execution of any chances England put together. Dele Alli found himself with a great chance to score in a 1 on 1 but hit it straight at Barcelona keeper Ter Stegen who kept the ball out and more importantly kept it 0-0, Lallana also found himself unlucky not to have scored after hitting the wrong side of the post after beating Ter Stegen to his left hand side. So there was no shortage of chances for England and looked to break down the German defence on a number of occasions and I’m sure that Gareth Southgate will take positives from the game as his Three Lions prepare to take on Lithuania on Sunday night and look to cement their place in the World Cup next year in Russia.
We saw a German side of the future on Wednesday featuring exciting youth prospects such as Timo Werner, Julian Brandt, Leroy Sané, Joshua Kimmich and Julian Weigl that I’m sure will be in the German national team “Die Mannschaft” for many years to come and with experienced players like Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng they nurture the youth prospects in this exciting side and go on to win many major tournaments down the line.
Joachim Low may take a different approach to the one he took on Wednesday as this game means there is now 3 points up for grabs when they travel to Azerbaijan to play them so I’ll expect to see more regular faces in the side on Sunday such as Thomas Müller who hasn’t really hit the sort of levels that he’s used to this season but no doubt has unbelievable amounts of quality. But you can also expect to see some wildcard choices such as Joshua Kimmich who showed he could impress on the biggest stage during the Euros.
Can Germany do what England for the Euros and win all 10 qualifications games? I honestly believe absolutely. To me their nearest rivals are Northern Ireland and they have already beaten them 2-0 and are yet to concede in the qualification campaign. With the talent they have and excellent management then there’s no reason why the defending world champions can’t go on and maintain their 100% record throughout.
Azerbaijan have probably surprised themselves with how well they’ve started the World Cup qualifying campaign after beating Norway and San Marino 1-0 after 2 games to give them 6 points from 2 games. A 0-0 draw away from home at Czech Republic kept them in the running for the second qualification spot, however a heavy away defeat at Northern Ireland where they lost 4-0 meant that Northern Ireland gained 3 points on them to move them up to second on goal difference and level on points with Azerbaijan in third.
What can we expect to see from this Azerbaijan side? Well don’t count them out of the running for a qualification spot just yet, with another tie to play against San Marino and they are still due to host main rivals Czech Republic and Northern Ireland at home. This gives them a slight advantage meaning that we could see them sneak through into the playoffs if not through the automatics.
Overall for this game I can’t really see past Germany to win as they are still the current world champions and have an elite group of players in their ranks that are far superior to the lads that Azerbaijan have to offer. A score is very hard to predict and a lineup is hard to choose too, but every player in that side has the quality to go out and impress when they play in this tie. Considering all the points I’ve made, I have to predict a 4-1 win for Germany with my personal favourites Thomas Müller and Timo Werner bagging in the game to move Germany one step closer to their qualification place.