Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill: England showed us how to beat Germans at Euro 2016

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill believes his players can take heart ahead of their Euro 2016 clash against Germany after watching England expose a number of frailties in Joachim Low's side.

O'Neill's men, who host Slovenia in a friendly at Windsor Park tonight, will face the World champions in Paris in their final group game in France, following matches with Poland and Ukraine.

Taking on the Germans is expected to be the toughest test of all, but suddenly it doesn't appear so daunting after England came from 2-0 down in Berlin's Olympiastadion on Saturday night to deservedly beat them 3-2 in a glamour friendly.

And boss O'Neill, who watched television highlights of England's comeback victory, feels there are areas where Northern Ireland can hurt Germany in the summer.

"Every team has frailties, and I think England exposed Germany's," said O'Neill.

"We have to find ways of getting at Germany, and I think at times how they played it out from the back against England was high risk.

"England were excellent. They played the game with a high tempo and it was certainly a fantastic comeback."

O’Neill added: “I think we saw two sides to Germany. Some of the opportunities they gave England were down to their own making and they are lacking an out-and-out centre forward. (Mario) Gomez is back in after not scoring for so long.

“Even in qualification, the Republic of Ireland took four points off Germany and Scotland were just narrowly beaten home and away, so I think there has been a combination there of a hangover from the World Cup, and some transition in their team.

“For the England game I think Germany only had four players starting who played in the World Cup final.”

In the press conference on the eve of tonight’s game with Slovenia at Windsor Park, the Northern Ireland manager joked that even if there were no weaknesses in the German team, he would invent some to offer his players confidence prior to an eagerly awaited encounter in  Paris on June 21.

“We can’t tell our players there are none and we won’t beat them. If there are no frailties there, we will make them up,” he  said.

O’Neill will see the Germans first hand tomorrow night when he attends their home game with Italy.

He was at pains to point out that while the England game was an insight into problems the World Champions may have at present, he fully expects them to be one of the big contenders in France.

“We are realistic that when we play Germany, it will be a different game plan to the one England deployed,” stated O’Neill, who will be in the Windsor dug-out this evening for the first time since signing his new £2 million four year deal with the Irish FA.

“Our main focus at this moment in time is primarily on Poland and Ukraine. We have had someone at the two Poland games this week, and the two Ukraine games also.

“We are getting to see as much as possible of our Euro rivals. Teams have changed over the qualifying campaign, including ourselves.”

Smiling he added: “I am not going to say too much about Germany, as they have plenty of decent options. We are under no illusions. It will be as difficult a game we could get.”

Asked for his opinion on Germany following England’s impressive victory, secured by goals from Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier, Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis remarked: “It gives you a wee bit of hope that they are not unbeatable, but we know it is a massive challenge.

“Their side is full of world class players, but we are going out there to France and the Euro finals to cause a few upsets and we will do our best.”

Belfast Telegraph