Facing Germany on their own patch is daunting.
Germany are arguably the best team in the world right now. Two-time world champions, eight-time European champions, 2016 Olympic champions. Germany are a football powerhouse.
Diane Caldwell is under no illusions of the task ahead. The Republic of Ireland centre-back plays her football in Germany for the Bundesliga side SC Sand.
“We’re under no illusions that it’s not going to be easy,” said Caldwell.
“We’re top of the table but Germany have a game in hand and we’ve already messed up away in Greece. We lost points there when we shouldn’t have. We’ve a long way to go and really important games to play.”
“There’s massive gaps, especially in international football. You can’t really compare us to Germany. We’re 32nd in the world, they’re second. Arguably the best team in the world right now.”
“From the onset the pace of the game is very high, you need a specific game-plan and to know your roles. Concentration is a big one. The top teams prey for those moments when you switch off or make a mistake.”
Germany sit one point behind Ireland having played one game less. The Germans have scored 31 goals so far in qualification conceding none, in four games. Despite being clear underdogs, Caldwell believes Ireland need to trust their strengths ahead of their clash.
“We know what we are up against but we are defensively strong. You believe in your strengths and what we can achieve in, and if everyone is at the top of their game then anything can happen.”
With the Germans being the favourites to take top spot of Group I, there is a realistic sense that Ireland are actually playing for the points required to secure one of three automatic qualification spots on offer instead. The game against Germany is a bonus with next month’s clash against Ukraine critically important.
“Our aim is to qualify, but it is a game where we will give it our best,” said Ireland’s vice-captain. “We’ll give it our best shot but realistically we’ll have to go through perhaps a play-off. We still have a really tough game against Ukraine to come away and we know how tough that was at home.”
Germany v Republic of Ireland
UEFA 2021 Women’s European Championship Qualifying – Group I
Saturday, September 19
KO 13:00 (Irish Time)
LIVE ON RTE