Could Gibraltar – Germany see the biggest upset since records began?

13 Jun

Whilst I would imagine most Brentford eyes are going to be on Stuart Dallas and Northern Ireland’s attempt to beat group leaders Romania in the Euro qualifiers tonight, there is an alternative. And in one of football’s most unlikely yet romantic fixtures, it sees Gibraltar entertain Germany in Group D.

I talked about Gibraltar many times last season (all of which are in the 2014/15 review) with the reverse fixture in Germany, back in November, being one of the highlights. Despite Liam Walker almost scoring a stunner for the boys from the Rock with a dipping shot from 35 yards that left Manuel Neuer furiously backpedalling to just beat out for a corner, the World Champions eventually ran out 4-0 victors.

Gibraltar come close to one of the goals, and shocks, of the season.

It was a game that Germany boss Joachim Löw had gone into full of bellicose confidence, promising at the time, “ There will be many attacking players on the pitch tomorrow. We don’t need four defenders at the back. We need players to set the tone up front.”

Instead he was left to rue coming up against a resolute opposition as he was forced to admit, “We wanted to play as world champions and four goals are too few”.

Things have moved on for Gibraltar since that night. They’ve already dropped the bracketings that saw their opening qualifiers end in 7(seven)-0 defeats whilst, last time out against Scotland, they scored their first international goal as Lee Casciaro levelled things up 18 minutes into the game. Whilst Scotland went on to win, things are definitely improving on the pitch for European football’s newest member.

Sky Sports viewers saw Lee Casciaro make history for Gibraltar in Scotland

Sky Sports viewers saw Lee Casciaro make history for Gibraltar in Scotland

So what does it mean for tonight? Well, Joachim Löw was certainly a lot more understated about his team’s chances than last time out in the final press conference before the game. Acknowledging that, “The matches against Australia and USA proved that there is a means of killing our game early on, which makes it hard for us.” has he given Gibraltar a clue about the approach they should take?

For me, it is another ‘nothing to lose’ chance for this team to find their feet on the international stage. Löw was honest enough to admit that last time out, “It wasn’t an easy game. They’re tactically astute and we found it tough for long periods” before going on to hope that Germany “score lots of goals”.

So – strangle the game, and catch them on the break. Indeed, the pressure of knowing that not only do they need to win, but win heavily, can do strange things to a team currently fighting it out with Scotland for second and third place. The difference between automatic qualification for the finals and play off against, potentially, Netherlands or Ukraine is a huge one.

Could it happen for Gibraltar tonight? It would be the biggest upset since records began but then I said something similar last time out. Probably.

One thing’s for sure, they’ll be giving it their all and will have an entire nation behind them. I just wonder how far the tentacles of Matthew Benham’s statistical model reach?

Tonight Sky Sports 5; tomorrow Griffin Park? You never know….

Gibraltar have packed their boots.What about the defensive wall?

Gibraltar have packed their boots.What about the defensive wall?

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