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May 29, 2017

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Germany crush Ireland in qualifier

BERLIN--Germany's 6-1 demolition of Ireland on Friday in their World Cup qualifier restored order within the team, in some turmoil since their Euro 2012 semifinal defeat in June.

Coach Joachim Loew had been criticized in the past months for failing to get the killer punch out of a talented team that has failed to win a major trophy in the last 16 years.

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness had also accused Loew of being too soft on his players while midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger had demanded a higher degree of team spirit to take the next step.

But with their third straight victory in their 2014 World Cup qualifiers from three games and a possible 12 points after they play Sweden on Oct 16, Loew's team is in a commanding position, firmly established as group favorites.

"Maybe you have," he told reporters, when asked if there were too many side issues plaguing the team off the pitch.

"These issues were never anything that touched the team. We knew we had to remain focused and that the truth will shine on the pitch. We have one more game against Sweden and if new could finish the year on 12 points in the group that would be great."

Among those helping Germany to victory was leftback Marcel Schmelzer, who himself had been on the receiving end of Loew criticism only the day before.

Schmelzer helped set up their first goal with a fine run and got the thumbs up from his coach afterwards.

"Maybe I was misunderstood. I said that he has room to improve," said Loew, who has been looking for options in the leftback position for months.

"We trust him and that is why he is here. He has to take the next step. He plays well for Borussia Dortmund, not so well against Austria (in the World Cup qualifier in September). But we have full trust in him and we want to help him get the stability that we expect from him."

Striker Miroslav Klose also responded to Hoeness' criticism with a goal as he chases the all-time German record of 68 goals set by Gerd Mueller.

Hoeness had said most of Klose's 64 international goals before Friday had come against minor teams.

With Sweden being guests in Berlin next week, Germany are hoping they can show a home crowd that their world is still very much in order and their sights firmly on chasing that major trophy in Brazil in two years' time.

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