Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis believes the pressure is on Germany and Holland as the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign moves into its decisive stage.
Michael O’Neill’s side have given themselves the best chance possible of beating one of the two heavyweights to a place at next year’s finals by winning their first four games in Group C, home and away to Belarus and Estonia.
Now as they prepare for tonight’s showdown with Germany at Windsor Park, Davis said the weight of expectation was on their opponents.
“In the first four games we weren’t looking at the others too much,” said the Rangers midfielder. “We were just focusing on ourselves, getting maximum points, we knew that would be difficult and it proved to be difficult, but we managed it.
“We wanted to be in a position in these four games with all to play for, in many ways the pressure’s on Holland and Germany.
“Do I believe we can go and get results against them? 100 per cent yes. Would we beat them if we played them regularly? No.”
Davis is poised to break Aaron Hughes’ caps record for an outfield player after his late cameo against Luxembourg on Thursday took him to 112.
“It’s obviously huge, but I haven’t really given it a huge amount of thought,” Davis said. “I’ve been focused on the game, if we can get out of this group it would be a remarkable achievement and that would be more important to me.
“But I’m proud of every cap I’ve earned and hopefully I’ve got a few more left in me.”
Indeed, O’Neill backed the 34-year-old to very soon break Pat Jennings’ all-time Northern Ireland record of 119.
“He pestered me all week to get five minutes against Luxembourg and I eventually wilted under the pressure,” said O’Neill with a laugh. “He’s still as effective at this level as he was when I took the job seven years ago.
“Whenever he does hang up his boots, hopefully, after I’ve left the job, he’ll be remembered as one of the best players we’ve had.”