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Northern Ireland v Germany: We need to be at our best or it could be a tough test - Mats Hummels

By Steven Beacom in Paris

Germany defender Mats Hummels has warned his team-mates to beware the 'fight and passion' of Northern Ireland in Paris in their Euro 2016 clash tomorrow night.

The Borussia Dortmund star, however, insisted that if the Germans are at their best they will beat Michael O'Neill's men.

Like Northern Ireland, Germany defeated Ukraine 2-0.

In their other game the world champions drew 0-0 with Poland.

They enter tomorrow's Group C encounter in the French capital on four points, one ahead of Northern Ireland.

Joachim Low's side believe they are working their way into the tournament for bigger battles to come.

The plan for Germany now is to give Northern Ireland a going over to set them up for the knockout stages, though as Hummels says his side cannot take their eye off the ball.

"We already know that Northern Ireland are not the weakest team in the group and they have a realistic chance of making it out of the group stages," said the highly-rated defender.

"We will need to be vigilant because they will do what they always do which is great to see as a fan. They will give their all and fight passionately.

"You cannot fall asleep for a single second because if you do they will steal the ball."

Hummels accepts that Germany will be odds-on favourites in Paris. It is a tag he welcomes adding that if the world champions play at the level they are capable of there will only be only result.

"We need to be careful but of course we are favourites and we also like to adopt that role for the match," said Hummels.

"We know that if we are at our best we will beat Northern Ireland."

Germany coach Low says that Northern Ireland have already proved themselves as one of the surprise elements of Euro 2016.

He is wary that O'Neill's team will be dangerous from set pieces, as was shown when Gareth McAuley met Oliver Norwood's perfectly flighted free-kick to score against Ukraine.

"They are one of the positive surprises of this tournament," said Low, when asked about his next opponents.

"They were a bit cautious in the first game against Poland, but in the second match they showed their energy and intensity, and deservedly beat Ukraine.

"They are dangerous. They have players who run a lot and are very dangerous at set pieces."

Low was extremely complimentary about Northern Ireland's defence stating it was as good as any in the competition.

While O'Neill made headlines with his team line-up for the Ukraine fixture, Low may be in the mood to change his side too.

"Before the tournament I stressed that this could be a competition where we play different teams with different types of players depending on the game, especially in the group stage," he said, before concluding that delivering lots of crosses into the box would play right into Northern Ireland's hands.

Belfast Telegraph