WORLD CUP: Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill knows what to expect from Germany

Michael O'Neill
Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill knows the size of the task his side faces when they take on Germany at the National Stadium at Windsor Park on Thursday night.

The Germans lead Group C after winning all of their eight group games to date.

They have also scored 35 goals while only conceding two - so it seems O’Neill’s men face a ‘Mission Impossible’ as they take on the might of Joachim Low’s side on Tuesday evening.

O’Neill’s men lie second in the group after winning six of their eight matches so far.

A 2-0 win in their last outing against the Czech Republic has O’Neill’s men on a high but the boss knows Germany have very few weaknesses.

“It wasn’t so much that we made weaknesses up, I think Germany are the strongest team in Europe, arguably the world.

“The players they have coming into their squad seem to adapt to international football very quickly, whatever they do they do it extremely well.

“Germany have a very attacking approach, which you have to when you have weaknesses defensively.

“We’ve looked at how they’ve lost goals, maybe from overplaying at the back, lapses in concentration, little things that we have to look to exploit as well.

“We had chances in Hanover on counter-attacks that we could have done better with.

“We’re under no illusion, we are not going to come in and suddenly have 60 per cent of the ball.

“We know the areas where we believe we can hurt Germany. We will need a massive performance and some fine individual moments to win the game,” said O’Neill.

“Analysis is important because it’s how it’s interpreted.

“We’ve presented the Germans as a formidable opponent but not an invincible opponent.

“An opponent that on any given night that there’s an opportunity for us to try and find a way to win the game and certainly the players believe that,” said O’Neill.

And O’Neill says his side will have to work hard tonight as they will have to play for long periods without the ball.

“We’re not in a position against this level of opposition to go and attack them. If we do that we would get beaten and we would get beaten because they have better players.

“We have to be realistic. The biggest thing is to set-up a team that is difficult to beat and the players believe they can win from that platform.

“This team have done that extremely well. If you look at us we didn’t play well in Prague but came away with 0-0.

“We had opportunities and we could have done better. In Baku, we had to defend for long periods in the second half but from that we go and win the game.

“All of those are layers of belief and confidence and the players knowing that they are capable of doing that.

“When we played San Marino we have 75 percent of the ball, it’s a different approach.

“It’s about being realistic with the resources you have. If players don’t have the ball, they still believe they can win the game.”