BERLIN (AFP) – World champions Germany are chasing a big win over minnows Gibraltar in Nuremberg on Friday as they bid to turn around the rocky start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Germany were brought crashing down to earth following their Brazil 2014 triumph by slumping to a 2-0 defeat to Poland, then conceded a last-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Ireland last month to leave them third in Group D.
The Germans lag three points behind the Poles and Irish in the table and a big win is expected by the hosts against Gibraltar before the world champions’ friendly against Spain in Vigo next Tuesday.
Poland and Ireland have already both posted 7-0 wins over the group’s bottom side Gibraltar in their qualifiers and the hosts need a similarly big score at Nuremberg’s Grundig Stadium to boost their goal difference.
Germany are missing injured midfielders Marco Reus, Julian Draxler and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, but the world champions want to make sure of the win.
“We’ll go into the game against Gibraltar with full concentration and all seriousness,” promised head coach Joachim Loew.
“We know we’re clear favourites and that is exactly how we want to step out against them.”
Even with key players injured, and Loew looking to rebuild his defence after the retirements of Philipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker, tiny Gibraltar, who have lost all three games so far, should not present any problems.
“We take our opponents very seriously even if their last games have not been so successful,” said Germany assistant coach Thomas Schneider.
“What is important is to have a good game and if we win 5-0 or 6-0 and the boys play well, that’s OK for us.
“There is no reason for us to be careless. We want to get the three points to put our qualification back on track.”
Gibraltar only played their first international in September after finally being accepted as a UEFA member and the tiny British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain only has a tiny pool of amateur players from which to choose.
Manager Allen Bula would be happy with a low-scoring defeat, but says it is not his side who are under pressure.
“We’re playing against the world champions, so for me this is already a dream come true,” admitted Bula.
“I told the boys, they should just enjoy the match. Germany have not yet been convincing in their qualification campaign, so the pressure is on our opponents, not us.”
Most of his squad are amateurs, who combine jobs such as firemen, accountants and customs officers with their training, and have failed to score yet in their three qualifiers while leaking 17 goals.