Belfast Telegraph

We must do what we did against Germans: Michael O'Neill

Michael O'Neill
Michael O'Neill

By Steven Beacom

Michael O'Neill knows what he wants from his team against the Netherlands tonight - a performance reaching the standards set at home to Germany last month and the victory to go with it.

In September, to the surprise of many, O'Neill's tactics were gung-ho when the Germans came to Belfast. Rather than sit back and soak up pressure and try his luck on the break, the Northern Ireland boss was confident enough in his players for them to go toe-to-toe with Joachim Low's superstars.

It would have worked but for two missed chances from Conor Washington in an exhilarating first half. After the break, the Germans took their opportunities when they came along and won 2-0.

"We have to get to that level. In the first half at Windsor against Germany, I thought we were phenomenal and I think we should have been ahead, perhaps two ahead," said O'Neill.

"You can't play well against Germany for 90 minutes, there is going to be a period when they come to the fore. Even when we went 1-0 behind, we stayed in the game which says a lot about this team.

"For the Dutch we aim to make it as uncomfortable as possible. They have fantastic players, we know their reputations. We need to make the game with the intensity we showed against the Germans. Even the top players in that kind of atmosphere can be tested."

Since the group draw was made, O'Neill has known qualifying automatically was a huge task. To be in with a chance with two games left against the Dutch and Germans illustrates the brilliance of him as a manager and the outstanding displays from his team.

"We've got two Pot 1 teams in our group. I look at England's group and wonder why we couldn't be in that," O'Neill said with a smile. "Against these teams we won't create half a dozen chances. When you create them, you need to take them."

O'Neill is expecting an almighty atmosphere at Windsor tonight. He won't be disappointed.

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