Northern Ireland v Germany – Parc des Princes at 17:00 live on BBC One
After an excellent and surprising 2-0 win over the Ukraine in their second group match, Northern Ireland have given themselves a great chance of making the last 16, but will need a point against world champions Germany to secure that place. They meet this evening at the Parc des Princes at 5pm and it’s live on BBC One.
Having lost 1-0 in their opening match to Poland, without registering a single shot on target, Norn Iron needed a positive results against the Ukraine to keep their hopes of getting out the group alive. They delivered! In an excellent display, Gareth McAuley and Niall McGinn got on the score sheet in a well deserved victory and their first in a major tournament since 1982.
Typically, Northern Ireland were resolute in defence, never looking like they would concede and were more confident on the ball. It was no surprise their first goal game from a set piece, as over half of their goals in qualifying were from dead ball situations.
Their 3 points has assured them of third place in the group but another point is needed to guarantee a place in the knockout stages. With their strengths in defence, O’Neill will set up to frustrate the German’s who haven’t been at their best so far this tournament. The Green & White Army could still make it through if they lost, depending on results elsewhere, but they’ll aim to get the job done this evening.Germany opened their campaign with an unimpressive 2-0 win over the Ukraine in what was a laboured performance. That was followed up with a limp attacking display against Poland, drawing 0-0, which has sparked some criticism.
Die Mannschaft created very little going forward, lacking directness and pace in the final third. They also lack width, especially down the right hand side, with Benedikt Howedes looking uncomfortable at right back. It was always going to be tough replacing Philipp Lahm, but having played poorly in the opening 2 matches, Howedes could be replaced tonight.
Joachim Low hasn’t found the right balance yet but insists they will get better as they progress in the tournament. They started slowly in the world cup 2 years ago, before growing at every stage and lifting the trophy. They have also reached at least the semi final of their last 5 major tournaments and they are still very much in this one.
Low has promised fans Germany will top the group and in order to do so, assuming Poland defeat Ukraine, they will need defeat Northern Ireland and rely on their goal difference. They are 1.32 favourites to win in 90 minutes, and I expect them to do so, but not without a fight.
Northern Ireland will not play as attacking as their did against the Ukraine and with Germany having kept 2 clean sheets in their opening 2 matches, it’s hard to see O’Neill’s side finding the back of the net. Germany did concede 9 goals in 10 qualifying games though. Ireland’s best chance will be from a set piece.
Germany need a good attacking performance, but Northern Ireland will be tough to break down. Patience will be needed from Low’s players as Norn Iron only conceded 1 first half goal in their qualifying campaign and I think they will go in level. That said, I think they will get broken down and lose this one so I have 2 Asian Handicap betting recommendations in what I expect to be a game of two halves.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Northern Ireland +0.5 1st half at 2.07 & Germany -0.75 2nd half at 1.91
Prices correct at time of writing.
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