After missing out on last year's Euro, Switzerland returned to form and easily qualified for the 2014 World Cup. (Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images)
Germany eased into yet another World Cup on Friday with a 3-0 win over Ireland while neighboring Switzerland escaped with a 2-1 victory over Albania that secured its own trip to Brazil.
On-field celebrations by both teams were muted. Germany has never failed to qualify for a World Cup it entered and has played in each of the past 15, winning three. Switzerland lacks that history. But going into Friday’s match it was in great shape to advance to a third straight after making relatively easy work of a weak qualifying group.
The pair joins Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands on the list of European teams already booked for Brazil.
Germany’s place was never in doubt. The only blemish on its 8-0-1 Group C record was a wild 4-4 draw with Sweden last year. Die Mannschaft has yielded just one qualifying goal since and had no trouble with Ireland on Friday.
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid) scored in the first half and André Schürrle (Chelsea) and Mesut Özil (Arsenal) struck in the second at the Rhein Energie Stadion in Cologne. Germany has lost only two World Cup qualifiers in its illustrious history and will go for its fourth world title next summer as one of the top seeds.
Switzerland lacks Germany’s star power but has been a consistent winner over the past decade. It did miss last year’s European Championship but now is back among the elite after winning Friday in Tirana. Ranked 14th in the world, Switzerland got second-half goals from Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri and Grasshoppers Zurich defender Michael Lang.
Former D.C. United striker Hamdi Salihi converted a late penalty kick for the hosts, but the Swiss handled the ensuing pressure and held on.
Either Iceland (5-3-1) or Slovenia (5-4-0) will finish second behind Switzerland (6-0-3) in Group E.