Manuel Veth –
Northern Ireland vs Germany – Monday, September 9, 19:45BST/20:45CEST – Windsor Park, Belfast, United Kingdom
Northern Ireland will head into Monday’s game as the leaders in Euro 2020 qualification Group C. The Green and White Army, have collected 12 points out of their first four games.
Those four victories, however, came in games against Belarus and Estonia. The remaining four games in Group C will be twice against Germany and the Netherlands. In other words, Northern Ireland’s position at the top of the table has not been truly measured, and the 1-0 victory over Luxembourg will provide little evidence on the true strength of the side.
The game on Monday against an embattled Germany will, therefore, be the first true test for head coach Martin O’Neil’s side. Germany, in the meantime, are looking to correct the disastrous result from Friday against their biggest rivals the Netherlands.
Die Mannschaft convincingly started the qualification campaign with three victories against the Netherlands, Belarus and Estonia. Those results have perhaps given a bit of a wrong picture in terms of Bundestrainer’s Joachim Löw’s rebuild.
A rebuild that has come under severe criticism after the 2-4 defeat against the Netherlands on Friday. It was indeed a big step back for Germany, although the tactical setup made sense—Germany allowed the Netherlands to have the majority of possession and looked for counter-attacks—the execution at times was poor. Going up 1-0 in the first half, Germany lacked the control when going forward quickly and, furthermore, missed out on capitalizing on major chances.
Truth be told the game should have been over in the period between the 40th and 60th minute in which Germany failed to score the second goal. Instead disaster unfolded. “We played four games, won three and lost one, and although we suffered a setback, we are still on target,” Löw said at the press conference on Sunday. “Certain mistakes are important in the player development, and I’m convinced this team has the quality to evolve over the next months and years.”
Germany are indeed still on course and with a victory on Monday will have made a major step towards the Euros. At the same time, Germany are adamant that they will not underestimate Northern Ireland. “There are many players with Premier League experience,” Löw said. “There will be an incredible atmosphere here in the stadium. We have to be prepared for that. Every corner, every free-kick is cheered by the crowd,” he added.
Make no mistake the game on Monday will be a difficult one for Die Mannschaft, a true character test for a team that continues to be in a rebuild. At the same time, Germany have the quality to win the game and make a big step towards the Euros and continue what will be a long and stony path towards the world elite.
Northern Ireland vs Germany – Players to look out for:
Jonny Evans #5 – Northern Ireland
Key members of the squad such as Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart, and Conor Washington didn’t make the matchday squad against Luxembourg as they were rested, but all are expected to return for the crunch match with Germany. Evans, in particular, is expected to play a major role against Germany on Monday. The 31-year-old centre-back, who plays for Leicester City is one of the most experienced players in the squad. A three-time Premier League and one-time Champions League winner, with Manchester United in 2008, Evans has seen at all. Hence, against a talented Germany side, he is expected to guide the backline and hold the zero as long as possible.
Joshua Kimmich #6 – Germany
“We would have liked the situation to be different, but we got ourselves into this,” Joshua Kimmich said on Sunday. “Tomorrow’s game is going to be very important; we have to win. And whoever thinks it will be a walk in the park is wrong,” Kimmich added. Kimmich in some ways has become the face of a new Germany generation, at the same time no other player is being more hotly debated than the Bayern Munich star. To big question is what is Kimmich’s best position. Arguments can be made that he is both an excellent midfielder and right-back.
The truth is his best position is probably circumstantial. Trained as a midfielder from a young age he was not put in the right-back position until 2016 as a stop-gap by Löw during the European Championships. He has since excelled in that position and 90% of all games is one of the best players in the world when playing there but at times his midfield positional awareness shows, especially when playing against high pressing sides. Hence, his best position will depend on the opponent and against Northern Ireland that will be in a four-man defence.
Northern Ireland vs Germany – Match Stats
- Northern Ireland’s record v Germany: W2 D4 L11
- Germany have won the sides’ last seven meetings
- Germans scored three or more in the last four Belfast games
- Hosts’ last win v (West) Germany: 1-0 in November 1983
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Northern Ireland vs Germany – 1-3
Northern Ireland vs Germany – Lineups
Peacock-Farrell – McLaughlin, Cathcart, J. Evans, Lewis – McNair, C. Evans, Davis – Dallas, Washington, Lafferty
Head Coach: Martin O’Neil
Neuer – Hector, Süle, Ginter, Kimmich – Kroos, Can – Reus, Havertz, Gnabry – Werner
Head Coach: Joachim Löw
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC, and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.