Northern Ireland vs Germany: Three Key Battles

The world champions head to the British isles looking to secure their place at this summer's World Cup in Russia.


A point will do for Joachim Low’s side.

Northern Ireland themselves has had a wonderful qualifying campaign under Michael O’Neill and are the only team who could possibly catch the Germans to qualify outright, as unlikely as that is.

They are currently five points behind Germany and need to win both of their qualifiers to have a chance.

However, that hasn’t stopped it from being a superb couple of years for Northern Ireland, and the atmosphere at Windsor Park will be electric.

RealSport has picked out three key battles that could decide tonight’s game.

Jonny Evans vs Lars Stindl

If Northern Ireland wish to have any chance of claiming all three points tonight, their defence will have to be on the top of their game.

Timo Werner will be a big miss for the Germans after the RB Leipzig forward had to pull out through injury, however Stindl is an excellent replacement. The Borussia Monchengladbach striker has superb movement and is a good finisher.

Stindl may have only scored two goals in the Bundesliga this season however he is still a nuisance for any defence and had a good Confederations Cup for the Germans, helping them win the tournament with one goal in two games.

Evans, on the other hand, has developed into an extremely reliable Premier League defender for West Brom and was the subject of major interest from Manchester City in the summer. He has so far averaged 4.3 clearances per game this season, and that number will likely be higher tonight.

Oliver Norwood vs Toni Kroos

Allow the Real Madrid midfielder time and space to dictate the game, and you may not see the ball for minutes at a time. Kroos is one of the best passers in world football and can make opposition players chase shadows with his speed of thought and quick passing. Kroos averages 92% pass completion in La Liga so far this season, however regularly displays his wide range of passing, completing an extremely high 7.4 long balls per game. His average of two key passes per game also show how they crucial he is to Madrid’s creativity.

Norwood on the other hand has made an okay start to the season for Fulham. He is yet to hold down a regular starting place in the side for the West London club, however averages 1.4 tackles and 1.0 interceptions a game. Similar to Evans, if Northern Ireland want to win tonight, those defensive numbers will need to increase, and stopping Kroos from dictating the tempo will be crucial.

Kyle Lafferty vs Mats Hummels

Lafferty is the modern day David Healy. Excellent for his country despite not always performing at club level.

Lafferty has 20 goals in 58 games for Northern Ireland, extremely impressive considering the size of the nation and general quality of their squads. Lafferty has a real knack for being in the right place at the right time to find the back of the net. Hummels, however, has been one of the best centre backs in the world for a number of years and has excellent concentration and distribution from the back.

The Bayern Munich centre back’s reading of the game is superb and Lafferty will certainly be looking to pull off the back of the German and cause him issues. Lafferty will have to prove his quality tonight. He may only get once chance all game and could well have to take it if Northern Ireland are to beat the world champions.

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Harry Brooks

27

Harry graduated from UAL in Elephant and Castle with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in sports journalism.

He has an NCTJ diploma and also coaches football and teaches PE in schools.

Harry loves to talk football tactics!

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