TORSHAVN, Faeroe Islands (AP) — Germany aims to make qualification for its 16th successive World Cup appearance a mere formality with a victory over the Faeroe Islands on Tuesday.
The Germans lead Group C by five points and can qualify with two games to spare with a victory at Torsvolli Stadium if second-place Sweden fails to win at Kazakhstan. Joachim Loew is confident his side will fulfill its obligations, though suggested Monday that the game will not be the walkover many are predicting.
"For a small country, they really can defend very well, and they're very well organized," Loew said, referring to his side's 3-0 win from the home game in Hannover. "We'll go into this game in all seriousness and with full concentration. Other teams have struggled here, like Sweden (who fought from a goal down to win 2-1) and Ireland, who took a long time to score. Italy only won 1-0 here (in 2011)," Loew said.
"What interests me is that we take the three points, and that's what we'll do." Austria and Ireland are three points behind Sweden and both need to win their game in Vienna to maintain hope of finishing second and reaching the playoffs.
The Faeroese have lost all their games and anything other than defeat would be a huge surprise for the semi-professional team. The islanders lost 2-1 in Kazakhstan on Friday in what was a battle between the group's bottom teams and the Kazakh's first win.
Faeroe Islands coach Lars Olsen said he is "optimistic as always." However, he acknowledged it is unrealistic for his side to win against "one of the top three teams in the world." Olsen said the biggest problem facing his side is that many of his players work eight hours a day before team training at night.
"Should we improve the team, one solution could be to switch over to have some kind of professional football on the Faeroes," said Olsen, a former Denmark captain. Defender Jonas Tor Naes is suspended for Germany's visit with two yellow cards.
Germany was made to work for its three wins over the Faeroe Islands in previous meetings. In June 2003, in the only game played in Torshavn, late goals from substitute Miroslav Klose and Fredi Bobic in stormy conditions secured qualification for the 2004 European Championship.
"The balls disappeared in the clouds before resurfacing," said Klose, the only surviving player from that game still in Germany's side. The veteran Lazio striker scored his 68th international goal in Friday's 3-0 win over Austria to equal Gerd Mueller's record for Germany. Klose will be hoping to claim the record for himself in his 130th appearance, though has played down comparisons with the now 67-year-old Mueller, who set the record in 62 appearances.
Loew said Klose will "definitely start" while Andre Schuerrle or Julian Draxler will likely fill in on the left for attacking midfielder Marco Reus. Another option, Bayer Leverkusen's Sidney Sam, "is more of a right-sided player," the Germany coach said.
Reus was ruled out Monday with a stomach infection, joining Borussia Dortmund teammate Ilkay Gundogan as well as Bayern Munich midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze on the injury list. Loew said he would make at most three changes from the side that beat Austria. Light rain and gusts of wind are forecast for Tuesday.
Germany rarely looked threatened by Austria, and appeared to have answered questions over its shaky defense after conceding nine goals in its previous three friendly games. "For me as a goalkeeper the most important result was that we could still keep a clean sheet," Manuel Neuer said.
Germany has lost only two of its 81 World Cup qualifiers since 1934, and is on a 29-game unbeaten run in World Cup or European Championship qualifying since a 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic in October 2007.