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Northern Ireland boss Michael O

Michael O’Neill believes Germany will be more beatable ahead of Euro 2020 qualifier against Northern Ireland

  • Michael O’Neill’s side top Group C in qualifying for Euro 2020 ahead of the clash
  • They face Germany and Holland home and away in their remaining four games
  • Northern Ireland have a chance to open up a six-point gap against Germany
  • This is after Joachim Low’s side lost 4-2 at home to the Dutch on Friday night 
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Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill believes Germany will be more beatable at Windsor Park on Monday night with the four-time World Cup winners in the middle of a rebuilding process.

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O’Neill’s side top Group C in qualifying for Euro 2020 ahead of the Germans and Holland, but face the two European heavyweights home and away in their remaining four games.

Northern Ireland have a chance to open up a six-point gap against Germany in Belfast after Joachim Low’s side lost 4-2 at home to the Dutch on Friday night.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill believes Germany will be more beatable at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill believes Germany will be more beatable at Windsor Park

Germany have won the last seven meetings between the two countries going back to 1983, including both games in the last World Cup qualifying campaign and a group clash at Euro 2016. They have also never lost back-to-back qualifiers.

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However, O’Neill knows Low’s side are no longer the dominant force they were after the Germany boss took drastic action following last year’s World Cup debacle. Bayern Munich players Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng were unceremoniously ditched and Sami Khedira dropped, while Mesut Ozil has retired.

‘You’re not going to change the squad from the World Cup and suddenly build that team to the same level in that period of time. You need time and these players need time,’ said O’Neill.

‘They have made the decisions they have made personnel wise because they’re looking ahead, which is understandable. But are they more beatable? Possibly they are, but it doesn’t mean the game is going to be any easier for us and the players know that.’ Germany’s vulnerability was exposed by Holland in Hamburg and O’Neill admits he saw weaknesses that his side can exploit as they chase the two home wins he believes are required to qualify automatically.

‘When you concede four goals on the night, things haven’t gone particularly well,’ he added. ‘There are a lot of changes in the Germany squad that we played here for the World Cup qualifiers and at the Euros in 2016.

Steven Davis deserves comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo, says Northern Ireland boss O’Neill

Steven Davis deserves comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo, says Northern Ireland boss O’Neill

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Steven Davis deserves comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo, says Northern Ireland boss O’Neill

‘Possibly this squad doesn’t have the experience that that one did, particularly in the back three. There are things in the Dutch game we can exploit.

‘But Germany are still a top side and it’s a massive test for us to try to get something from the game. In a way it’s a good thing they are coming off a defeat. It’s not a game they will relish, but teams like this react to defeats and we have to be ready for that.

‘I wouldn’t expect Germany to play as deep against us as they did against Holland. They are normally very aggressive, with the full-backs and wing-backs very high. They couldn’t do that against Holland. We could take a very aggressive approach against them but there’ll be times when we will have to defend for our lives.

‘We would probably have preferred Germany to win the (Holland) game because it would have given us I suppose a free hit at Germany and we would have been in a double header with Holland. That’s not the case.

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‘But in many ways it’s opened the group up and we have two double headers, one against Germany and one against Holland. That’s the nature of how it will be and we’ll have to try and garner as many points as we can.

‘That possibly means we’re going to need six points from the four games to give ourselves a real chance. The opportunity to get those six points will be at home, those games will be our best opportunity, so we have to approach the game with that mind.’ 

Northern Ireland are evolving as well, with O’Neill implementing a more possession-based game since they last faced the Germans. Even so, he knows his team will see much less of the ball on this occasion.

But Davis is fully focused on Northern Ireland's double header against Germany and Holland

But Davis is fully focused on Northern Ireland's double header against Germany and Holland

But Davis is fully focused on Northern Ireland’s double header against Germany and Holland

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‘You have to be prepared to not have the ball against Germany. The recent games will tell us that,’ he added. ‘We know that we are a much better team certainly than we were at the Euros in France in terms of possession. We are a more athletic team as well, we’re younger, so we might pose a different challenge to Germany than they possibly might expect.

‘Look, you can’t get a result against Germany without being good without the ball. We know that’s a big part of how we’ll have to play. But, equally, we’ll have to be good with the ball as well. Our aim is to have more possession, more opportunities and more attacks than we have in previous games.

‘I think if any team from a country of our size can qualify from a group with Holland and Germany in it then they probably deserve a wee pat on the back. These are two teams that expect to qualify for major tournaments and rightly so because history tells us that’s what they normally do. So if we can come out of this group at the expense of either Holland or Germany, it will be an amazing achievement for this group of players.’