Germany will earn automatic FIFA World Cup qualification with a game to spare if it beat the managerless Republic of Ireland on Friday.
Joachim Low’s men top Group C of the European qualification section, five points ahead of second-placed Sweden with just two games to go, and have not lost to Ireland -- whose manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, left last month -- since 1994.
However, the group leader is without a number of players for the encounter at the Rhein Energie Stadion, with Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Marco Reus among the regular squad members missing through injury.
Trapattoni's departure after five years in charge of the Irish came after the country's 1-0 defeat to Austria on Sept. 10, which all but ended its hopes of making the playoff round.
Caretaker boss Noel King will want to finish the qualifiers on a high against Germany and Kazakhstan, as doing so could help the nation move above Austria into third and improve its coefficient ranking for future campaigns.
History is not on the visitors' side, though, as Germany won the last meeting between the teams in Dublin last October 6-1 and has lost just twice in eight games against Ireland overall.
Forward Jonathan Walters and goalkeeper Kieren Westwood are both unavailable for King through injury, although captain and LA Galaxy standout Robbie Keane, who has 60 goals for his country, is in line to win his 130th cap in Cologne.