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Loew hoping to restore German pride after club struggles

Thursday, October 05, 2017

BELFAST, United Kingdom (AFP) — Joachim Loew said yesterday he hopes Germany — on the brink of qualifying for next year's World Cup in Russia — can restore national pride in Northern Ireland after an “alarming” series of results for the nation's club sides in Europe.

Germany, on 24 points, have won all eight of their qualifiers but have still not sewn up top spot in Group C because Northern Ireland have accrued 19 points themselves.

Anything but a defeat for the Germans will guarantee their place in Russia next year to defend the title they won in Brazil in 2014.

Northern Ireland have guaranteed a top-two spot in Group C and would seal one of the eight play-off berths if they win today.

Yet despite international success, Loew is worried by the state of Germany's clubs after Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim and Cologne were all beaten in the Champions League or Europa League last week.

Bayern's victory against Anderlecht is the only win a German side has managed in a continental group game this term, while there have been nine defeats, and that is troubling the national coach.

“The weak performances of German clubs in Europe is hopefully just a momentary blip, but it is alarming,” Loew said.

Loew said it was up to the national team to fly the flag for the German game.

Germany have never lost an away World Cup qualifier but Michael O'Neill has told his Northern Ireland players the world champions are “formidable but not invincible”.