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Germany v Northern Ireland: Green and White Army are fan-tastic, says Mats Hummels

By Paul Ferguson in Hannover

Published 11/10/2016

Leap of faith: Northern Ireland central defenders Gareth McAuley (left) and Jonny Evans at last night’s training session at the HDI Arena in Hannover
Leap of faith: Northern Ireland central defenders Gareth McAuley (left) and Jonny Evans at last night’s training session at the HDI Arena in Hannover
Confident: Joachim Low

Bayern Munich superstar Mats Hummels has conceded he would like his own German fans to aspire to be like the Northern Ireland supporters.

During the Euro 2016 finals, Hummels was greatly impressed by the level of support coming from the Green and White Army, who will be represented by 1800 fans tonight, and admits Northern Ireland beat Die Mannschaft in the stands.

The 27 year-old says: "In terms of the Northern Ireland fans, the fans have one huge advantage over our supporters in that we do not have a 'Will Grigg's on Fire' type of song."

Hummels added: “Hamburg (where Germany beat Czech Republic on Saturday) was enjoyable, not just on the pitch but also off it, and it was fantastic to see the great support we received there.

“Our fans, though, still have a little stretch to go before they are on a par with the Northern Ireland fans. We are good but still have a little to go.”

Germany were surprisingly knocked-out of Euro 2016 at the semi-final stage by hosts France.

It was a bitter blow for Joachim Low’s men, who were believed by many to be the best side at the finals.

They have started these World Cup qualifiers in determined and impressive fashion with two 3-0 wins over Norway and the Czechs — and Hummels insists they have a point to prove.

“It’s not just a reaction to the Euro finals but also to the Euro qualifiers where we didn’t play that well,” he stated.

“I don’t think we can ever aspire to be the world’s best, but one of the world’s best. We wanted to give everything from the word go as far as these qualifiers are concerned.”

Manager Low, on the verge of equalling the 94-win record of great German coach Sepp Herberger, doesn’t expect anything other than a powerful performance and high scoring victory as he plots a route to Russia in 2018.

“In a nutshell, no we’re not looking for accommodation already for the 2018 World Cup, but with six points achieved and Azerbaijan and San Marino to come, we’re confident enough to be fairly certain that yes we’ll be there in two years’ time, but I would like to finish this qualifying competition with full concentration,” said Low.

“We want to win games, be consistent and develop further ahead of the 2018 World Cup which we didn’t do for 2014 World Cup.”

It is only 112 days since Northern Ireland were on the end of a dominating display by Germany at the Euro 2016 finals. Low was disappointed Die Mannschaft didn’t score more than one goal in Paris, but that was largely down to the heroics of goalkeeper Michael McGovern.

Low added: “I think Northern Ireland, as opposed to the Czech Republic, will not play as openly, press as high and we will be facing a more defensively minded team.”

Mario Gomez has been ruled out of the game through injury, but Low insisted he has no further injury concerns, and he may only make one change from the side that beat the Czech Republic with Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan coming in for Sami Khedira.

Belfast Telegraph

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