The road to World Cup qualification has begun.
And tonight’s fixture will go a long way to deciding who qualifies from Group C.
Ireland have just come off the back of qualification for their first major tournament in 10 years.
Germany have failed to qualify for a major tournament just once.
In all 29 tournaments they've entered.
Failed just once.
At this summers European Championships, Ireland of course, failed to win a single point.
Germany won every game in a group containing Holland, Portugal and Denmark before being knocked out in the semi-finals.
Their loss to Italy ending a run of 14 straight competitive victories.
Meaning in their last qualification campaign, the Germans won 10 out of 10.
In fact, Germany can boast such an impressive qualification record that they come to Dublin having never lost a World Cup qualification game away from home.
Let me repeat myself.
Since 1932, Germany have never lost an away game during qualification for the World Cup.
Ireland’s last notable away victory came in 1987.
And it was Scotland who won it for them.
They also go into this match without their 4 most influential players of the last decade.
They will start a competitive match without one of Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Damien Duff or Robbie Keane for the first time in 13 seasons.
In fact, their squad has been so decimated with injuries and retirement that it contains only 3 players from the top half of the Premier League.
It has a grand total of 1 player from this seasons Champions League.
15 less than their counterparts.
Ireland will start the match with Sunderland’s reserve team goalkeeper.
Germany will have the second most expensive keeper of all time between the posts.
The home sides defence will be made up from Everton, Sunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Toronto FC.
The away side will include players from Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal.
Midfield will pith Bolton Wanderers against Real Madrid.
Birmingham City against Bayern Munich.
And Nottingham Forest against even more Real Madrid.
In attack, one notable absentee will be a L.A. Galaxy centre forward.
No such worries on the other side with options from Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal to choose from.
The type of clubs that Germany usually pick their players from.
The type of clubs that has allowed Germany finish at least 3rd in the last 3 World Cups.
The type that has them ranked as the second best team in the world.
Second only to Spain.
The team that punished the Irish so severely when Ireland had their full strength side out.
A team that will line up tonight against a nation who are on a different playing field.
But this game doesn’t take place on a playing field.
It takes place on a pitch.
A pitch where strange things occur.
A pitch where anything can happen.
Where teams ranked 28th defeat teams ranked much higher.
Where 1 goal is all it takes.
An own goal.
Where one team can completely dominate a game and fail to score.
The same sort of pitch that Greece prevailed on.
Same sort that saw Switzerland put 5 past Germany just a couple of months ago.
The sort that has seen Ireland defeat Italians and Dutch and English and Spanish.
Defeat Germans even.
We may not be on the same playing field tonight.
But we are on the same pitch.
It’s time to believe...