Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland have what it takes to bag upset in Frankfurt, says Ryan Babel

 

Impressive stuff: Ryan Babel (left) has admitted that
Netherlands found the going tough against NI at Windsor Park
Impressive stuff: Ryan Babel (left) has admitted that Netherlands found the going tough against NI at Windsor Park

By Julian Taylor

Northern Ireland face a tough Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany in Frankfurt on Tuesday night - but Netherlands ace Ryan Babel insists Michael O'Neill's men have the potential to upset the Group C leaders in their final fixture.

The Netherlands humbled their old rivals 4-2 in Hamburg back in September, a result which temporarily shook the psyche of Germany as a football nation.

Since then, Joachim Low's outfit have won all three group games, including a 2-0 success against Northern Ireland in Belfast, and ensured automatic qualification along with the Netherlands, while Belarus were comfortably beaten 4-0 in Monchengladbach at the weekend.

However, Babel, who faced Northern Ireland's battling qualities during Saturday's scoreless draw with the Oranje in Belfast, feels the men in green can take advantage of a little vulnerability within Die Mannschaft in the Commerzbank-Arena.

"I would say that when Northern Ireland go to Germany on Tuesday, their approach should be the same - just believe right until the end," said Galatasaray attacker Babel.

"I feel like Germany tend to kind of lose focus in the second half, especially if it is still 0-0. Even if Northern Ireland find themselves losing 1-0, the game is still not over for them.

"I think even over there (in Frankfurt) they would still have until the last minute to turn it around.

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"In my experience, Germany don't tend to like to run naturally behind players. So if Northern Ireland are managing to control the game a little bit and they make sure they have plenty of runners, they can cause Germany a lot of problems."

Babel, capped 63 times, left Windsor Park impressed with Northern Ireland's game plan and resilience.

And qualification via the play-offs in March can still be achieved by O'Neill's outfit, according to the former Liverpool and Ajax star.

"To be honest, I think Northern Ireland is a strong team, they have a lot of determination," he added. "They are very physical. We experienced a difficult night and a draw was a fair result.

"Northern Ireland's strength is in the collective and they are a team with a clear plan. You can tell that they want to put pressure on teams, especially the bigger nations. And we had difficult times in the game against them, for sure. As a team they did well.

"With the performance they showed against us, that could be an advantage for Northern Ireland in the play-offs. At this time I don't know if they can go through as it depends on who they end up playing, but they absolutely have a chance to qualify."

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