World Cup Qualifiers: Germany Slaughters Ireland, Croatia Edges Macedonia

Lars Baron - Bongarts/Getty Images

After an anxiety-producing close victory last time out, Die Nationalelf calmed some nerves today with an emphatic 6-1 win over Ireland. Marco Reus was the star of the show, but several German players looked lively and the Group is now Germany's to lose.

With Mertesacker and Badstuber playing at CB, there might have been some fear that Germany was liable to concede early, but in fact Ireland could do little in the early going. Germany took about half an hour to get on the board, but after the first goal arrived, the floodgates opened. Reus got the party started, then he was also on hand to double Germany's lead a few minutes later:

That one should have all 7 goals. That Ireland fan at 1:30 is not happy.

The front four of Klose, Oezil, Mueller and Reus is pretty deadly. The only problem is that it leaves no room for Kroos - he also looked excellent when he came on in the second half. I'd almost want to see if Kroos and Bastian playing together at CDM would be a possibility, but (1) Kroos looks very comfortable playing in a forward position, and (2) Khedira is needed for ball control and tackling power in the midfield. Anyway, there should be plenty of minutes to go around, at least through the qualifiers. if anyone seems to be the odd man out, it's Goetze, who didn't dress today.

Elsewhere, FC Bayern's Javi Martinez lines up as a defender for Spain, as expected. Spain eased to a 4-0 win over Belarus, and they have perfect record ahead of the looming showdown with France. Winner of that match has the inside track to getting the automatic ticket to Brazil, while the loser will need a bit of help (or else be resigned to the later play-in round). Right now, I think Spain is just too good all around, but anything can happen in a one-off.

Bayern was also represented in Switzerland vs. Norway, where Xherdan Shaqiri was part of the goal that gave the Swiss a 1-0 lead. Shaqiri sent in the corner that eventually found its way to Gavranovic, who buried from close range. Unfortunately for Switzerland, Nroway equalized less than 3 minutes later.

Some other Bayern-related tidbits from the day:

- Tymoschuk started and played the full 90 minutes, but Ukraine failed to break through and settled for a 0-0 draw with Moldova. Ukraine is off the pace with only 2 points from 2 matches, but they can make amends in 4 days when they battle Montenegro (sitting in 2nd place in that group).

- Mandzukic got the start, but failed to justify my prediction that he'd find the net vs. Macedonia. Croatia came from behind to earn a 2-1 win, but didn't look like a team that would be very threatening in Brazil (should they even make it that far).

- Daniel van Buyten didn't get off the bench, and appears to be on the way out as Belgium captain. The Belgians have found a solid back lien without him, anchored by Vermaelen and Kompany. But they did look good in dismantling Serbia. They now sit atop the most interesting group. A win next week against Scotland leaves Belgium in a great position.

- Pizarro was not on the Peru roster. Can anyone shed any light on this? I know he was locked in a long-term battle with their FA. But he played earlier in this qualification campaign, so I thought he was out of the doghouse. Anyway, they were held to a 1-1 draw with Bolivia, leaving their qualification hopes hanging by a thread. Peru faces Paraguay in a few days; they need a win there to have any chance.

We'll be back with more later, mainly just wanted to get goal videos up. Thanks for reading.

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