We’re at it again. Thirteen years after Northern Ireland’s phenomenal 3-2 victory over Spain the Green and White Army welcome Germany to Windsor Park. After four wins from four, the difficulty level is set to spike for Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland enter this game on a run of 5 consecutive victories. A comfortable 2-0 victory over Estonia was followed by a gripping 2-1 victory over Belarus. Potential slip-ups were avoided away from home against these sides too. A dramatic double from Conor Washington and Josh Magennis secured the 3 points in Estonia before Paddy McNair nabbed another late winner in Belarus to leave Northern Ireland top of the group after four games. Northern Ireland also boast the best defensive record in the group so far having conceded just two goals.
Germany meanwhile have acquired 9 points from their opening four. A 3-2 victory in Holland was a vital kick-start for a side in transition after a disappointing World Cup display. A 2-0 victory in Belarus swiftly followed before an 8-0 demolition of Estonia which saw star performances from Maro Reus and Serge Gnabry. A 4-2 defeat at home to Holland on Friday night will be a huge disappointment to a Germany team seeking consistency on the big stage. They will be travelling to Windsor Park desperate to secure the victory and ascend to the top of the group.
Recent meetings have seen Northern Ireland provide a strong account of themselves but ultimately come up short. The third game of Northern Ireland’s European Championship run in 2016 saw a 1-0 victory for Germany and a standout performance from goalkeeper Michael McGovern. Northern Ireland were also beaten twice by Germany in qualification for the 2018 World Cup. A 2-0 defeat in Germany and a 3-1 loss at home was by no means an embarrassment for the team. On Monday night Michael O’Neil will be desperate to avoid conceding early. Our two World Cup games against Germany saw goals in the 2nd, 13th, 17th, and 21st minute.
At just 22-years old, Bailey Peacock-Farrell is sure to be a fixture in the international set-up for years to come. Impressive performances for Leeds earned Peacock-Farrell his international call-up as well as a move to Burnley this summer. Monday night’s game is sure to be the biggest game of Peacock-Farrell’s young career. His ability is unquestioned – only three teams have conceded less than Northern Ireland thus far in qualifying. The goalkeeper however must also show the confidence to command an experienced defence on what is sure to be a challenging night for the team.
One of Michael O’Neil’s brightest prospects, Norwich left-back Jamal Lewis will be tested against Germany on Monday night. The 21-year old must be constantly alert for the danger provided by Bayern Munich duo Serge Gnabry and Joshua Kimmich throughout the 90 minutes at Windsor Park. Manager O’Neil however will also be depending on players like Lewis to retain possession when possible and perhaps venture forward if the situation presents itself.
On Monday night Steven Davis will become Northern Ireland’s most-capped outfield player. The captain remains as crucial to the side as ever. While Davis may no longer be the incessant pressing machine he once was, his more reserved style displays his tactical ability. An icon of modern Irish football Davis must once again marshal his midfield as Northern Ireland look once again to cause a major upset on home soil. Davis’ ability to retain possession and relieve the pressure on the defence will be crucial for Northern Ireland’s fortunes.
Expected to get the nod on Monday, Washington will provide pressing and pace in Northern Ireland’s attack. Two goals in his last three for Hearts puts Washington in good form going into this game. The striker also bagged a crucial away goal in Estonia to help Northern Ireland secure the 3 points. Northern Ireland must be clinical against Germany on Monday night. Washington may just be the man up to the task.
A testing game is sure to be in store for Northern Ireland on Monday night. The stadium however will be bouncing and the players will be high in confidence. The attacking prowess is obviously dangerous for Northern Ireland. Another strong defensive display from the side will be needed throughout the game. If the side can stay in the game however, a red hot support behind them may just give the GAWA a chance of getting out of Windsor Park with something taken from the giants.
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