Giovanni Trapattoni will change the habit of a lifetime as Ireland coach as he attempts to keep Germany at bay in his side's 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifier at Lansdowne Road on Friday.

The Italian boss is set to switch from the trademark 4-4-2 formation that has helped him achieve two play-off spots in the last two qualifying campaigns, in favour of a 4-3-3.

The 4-4-2 formation has been heavily criticised by pundits, players and fans, but the former Inter Milan, AC Milan, and Juventus coach has stuck by it through thick and the occasionally very thin.

He did switch once before, in competitive action, to a 4-5-1 when Ireland faced Spain in the second game of their UEFA EURO campaign in Poland in the summer.

"Remember, it went bad against Spain," he admitted earlier this week, as he confirmed a structure change was under consideration, which appears to suggest there is no easy fix for the situation Ireland are currently in.

New look Irish
Injuries and post-Euro 2012 retirements have hit Trapattoni and Ireland hard. Two cap centurions, Shay Given and Damien Duff, ended their careers on the back of a disappointing tournament, having both served their country with distinction.

All told, Trapattoni is missing six players who started the Euro 2012 opener against Croatia. Regular centre-backs Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger are injured, ever-present centre midfielder Glenn Whelan has a hamstring injury, and Kevin Doyle, who scored the winner against Kazakhstan last month, also misses out.

While Sunderland's John O'Shea and Toronto FC's Darren O'Dea are likely to step in at centre-back, it is the midfield make-up that is of most interest. The loss of Whelan in the engine room has created two gaps alongside Keith Andrews, who returns from suspension.

"It's correct to say he's a big loss," Trapattoni said of Whelan. "I said earlier that we have somebody for every position (in case of injury) but I think Whelan is the exception. There's nobody who plays his exact role.

"We have Andrews and James McCarthy and Keith Fahey but it's a little bit different. And it's a bigger loss now because of the opponent."

That trio is likely to make up a three-man midfield tasked with combating the talented German midfield, with one given the challenge to stick as close to Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil as possible. "We put three midfielders on the pitch and one midfielder is for Ozil," confirmed assistant boss Marco Tardelli.

Up front, Robbie Keane is expected to be the lone forward, despite having sustained a knock to his Achilles in training on Tuesday.

"The Germans have respect for him," Trapattoni insisted, but the prolific striker will need more support than when he ploughed an unenviably lonely furrow against Spain in Gdansk in June.

The task may look impossible from an Irish point of view, against the country that is second in FIFA's world ranking, but Tardelli, at least, refuses to be pessimistic. "We will try to win. It's normal for us," he said. "If we can win against Germany, it will be important for the team and for the country."

Wary Germans
Germany top Group C after wins over the Faroe Islands and Austria, but midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was rested for the opening two games, says the Irish will provide formidable opposition in Dublin.

"It is always something really special to play in Ireland," he said.

"It is not easy to win there because the Irish are very strong and combative, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and have an experienced coach.

"In addition, they have a passionate crowd - the atmosphere there is always fantastic."