Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Germany: Cool Corry Evans set for the heat of battle

By Steven Beacom

Everywhere you look on the daunting German squad list there are superstar players. For Northern Ireland midfielder Corry Evans, though, three in particular stand out in terms of creative and scoring ability.

The names of Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller were all brought up during yesterday's press conference with the Blackburn Rovers ace ahead of Northern Ireland's Group C game against the world champions.

How he would love to take them on in Paris tomorrow night.

His tigerish performance in the 2-0 victory over Ukraine last week gives him every chance.

Northern Ireland will need plenty of energy in their team to stop the Germans taking control and Evans showed in Lyon that he can provide it.

Already he and his team-mates have received their information on opposition players.

Now they all want to get down to business and take on one of the Euro 2016 favourites.

"Germany have got great players throughout but they (Kroos and Ozil) are the two main creators along with Thomas Muller, who can cause you real damage," said Evans.

"If we can nullify the threat from those three players, hopefully we can take a big part out of their team."

While Evans respects the big hitters in Joachim Low's side, he won't fear them when he sees them in the tunnel at the Parc des Princes

"When you're on the pitch, it doesn't matter," the 25-year-old said.

"In the build-up to the games the media builds these players up, but when you actually get on a pitch and in and around them it's just another game to me personally.

"Obviously you respect your opponent, but you've got to earn respect from them, play your own game, just try and do what we do best and get in and around these players and make it difficult for them."

Already in France O'Neill's team have quelled the threat of Poland's world class striker Robert Lewandowski before silencing Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka when they defeated Ukraine.

Doing it against Germany may be more difficult, but there is confidence in the Northern Ireland ranks that they can do a number on some of the most celebrated players on the planet.

One of the key strategies for Michael O'Neill's men against Ukraine was not to let them settle.

That was achieved almost from the first whistle.

"Straight from kick-off Conor (Washington) and Steven (Davis) were pressing and I think we got a corner really early on," said Evans.

"That's when I knew, right, they are going to be rattled here, and they didn't really seem to recover from that start.

"Credit to the lads, we managed to keep it up for 90 minutes. I think the Ukrainians didn't really know what to do after that.

"In our first match against Poland when we lost 1-0 we didn't see the ball first 20 minutes."

Evans did just about everything right against Ukraine, constantly applying pressure in the middle area of the pitch and helping his defence when required.

He was involved in a highly confusing moment, however, near the end when manager O'Neill was left fuming after a substitution went wrong.

O'Neill had been hoping to bring on Paddy McNair, but Evans and Stuart Dallas didn't know which one was coming off.

Eventually Manchester United youngster McNair made it on to the pitch in injury time.

Evans cleared up what happened, saying: "It was so loud on the pitch on Thursday you couldn't actually hear and it got lost with communication.

"It is very loud, especially the other night when we were scoring the two goals, the noise was incredible.

"On the pitch as well, the lads have even discussed it, and I've seen it first hand from Michael trying to get information on to the players against Poland - he's shouting, his lungs are hurting, no one can hear him. It's so loud, it's so hard unless you're very close to someone to get information on.

"Personally I haven't played in a stadium that loud before. To be fair, Blackburn v Burnley is very loud, that's really loud, but these last two games have been something else, the noise the fans have been making."

New Blackburn boss Owen Coyle has been in touch with Evans, though the former Old Trafford starlet is hoping that he can continue living the dream with Northern Ireland for a little while longer in France before thinking about a return to club duty. Entering the German game, Northern Ireland know that a draw may be enough to take them into the last 16.

There is also the possibility that results elsewhere in the competition could take Northern Ireland through as one of the four best third placed sides even if they don't collect another point.

"It's a difficult one. You've got to try and get a result regardless because you don't want to be relying on another teams and waiting for their results," said Evans.

"We've got to take the game to the Germans like we did Thursday against Ukraine."

After the victory over Ukraine, Jonny Evans admitted that he was so overwhelmed by the occasion and result that he cried at the final whistle.

Younger brother Corry managed to keep it together.

Whether or not he will be able to do that tomorrow should Northern Ireland beat the team who lifted the World Cup in Brazil two years ago may be another matter. Asked if there would be tears,Evans replied: "Maybe, we'll see! It would be something special to beat the world champions."

Belfast Telegraph