How Die Mannschaft plans to make that happen, however, is pretty unclear as we sit here just hours before the game. Germany’s lackluster effort in a 4-2 loss to the Netherlands has Joachim Löw soul-searching for a way to get the squad back on track.
Whatever plan Löw devises will surely need to be creative as several of the 59-year-old coach’s regular options are unavailable.
- Leon Goretzka is out with a thigh injury.
- İlkay Gündoğan is out with a stomach bug.
- Nico Schulz has an injured foot.
Nico Schulz has left the national team with a left foot injury and will miss Monday's game against the Northern Ireland. pic.twitter.com/BXTwVikzIx— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 7, 2019
- Löw is toying around with the idea of a back-four once more after Germany’s struggles against the Netherlands.
Joachim Löw will make tactical changes for the next game against Northern Ireland: a back 4 instead of a back 3, an additional midfielder (Gündogan or Havertz) will play alongside Kimmich and Kroos in a midfield 3. Gündogan is a doubt for the game with a stomach problem [BamS]— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 7, 2019
- Manuel Neuer is expected to start.
Because it is unclear how Löw will his troops up, we’ll provide one predicted line-up with a back-three and another with a back-four.
Germany’s shoddy performance on Friday could lead Löw to use a back-four, but let’s get this back-three version out of the way first. If Löw sticks to a back-three, the changes are minimal given that Germany absolutely cannot afford to lose — and Löw clearly thinks that Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Matthias Ginter are two of his top defenders (though I’d disagree).
FC Köln’s Jonas Hector would likely slot in for injured Borussia Dortmund outside-back Nico Schulz. While Löw will be tempted to get Kai Havertz into the lineup, it won’t be that easy with this formation. Still, Havertz will come on early if any of the front three struggles.
If Löw goes back to a back-four, I think we’ll see a bigger shift in personnel. In my estimation, we could see radical changes. RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner and Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah would hit the pine, while Havertz will jump into an aggressive central midfield role and his buddy, Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt, will slot out on the right wing. Havertz and Brandt would be able to interchange with ease after doing some of that for Die Werkself last season.
This alignment would allow Löw to use Werner as a super-sub to generate offense in the second half, while trying to maximize the awareness and passing of Brandt and Havertz to create offense for Reus and Gnabry.
Defensively, Bayern Munich’s Niklas Süle and Ginter will play centrally and be flanked by the RB Leipzig pairing of Marcel Halstenberg at left-back and Lukas Klostermann at right-back.
In the end, it’s is near impossible to figure how Löw is going to play this. It would seem that the only available field players who are certain not to be in the starting XI are SC Freiburg’s Lucas Waldschmidt, Juventus midfielder Emre Can, and Hertha Berlin defensive midfielder/center-back Niklas Stark.
Personally, I’d love to see what a center-back pairing of Süle and Stark would look like, while Waldschmidt and Can are clearly just along for the ride during this international break. Should the game get lopsided, we could see either of those players, but probably not in any other scenario.