Belfast Telegraph

Germany v Northern Ireland: We must rise to occasion to have any chance, says Steven Davis

By Paul Ferguson

Northern Ireland skipper Steve Davis has told his team-mates to have 'no regrets' when they leave the HDI Arena pitch tonight in Hannover.

The Southampton midfielder wants Northern Ireland to embrace the challenge posed by playing World champions Germany in their own backyard and not view it as a fearsome proposition.

It's been a quick turnaround for the players after only beating San Marino at Windsor Park on Saturday night. In that game Northern Ireland were the dominant force, but the roles will certainly be reversed this evening.

The Cullybackey lad says: "This game is probably more a style we're used to playing on a more regular basis than we were on Saturday night.

"Obviously it was nice to have that experience on Saturday night where we dominated possession, but we realise coming here we're not going to do that.

"It's going to be a very difficult game. We only played them recently and we know how difficult it is.

"Sometimes you're almost more vulnerable when you have the ball against a side like this because your positioning maybe isn't quite set.

"So there's a great challenge ahead of us and we know we're going to have to be on top form, possibly get a little bit of luck and have big performances from everybody to get a result.

"But it's a game for us to look forward to and if we give it our all, we can have no regrets."

In the Euro 2016 match in Paris, Germany's Toni Kroos was devastatingly good and recorded 121 passes. It will be up to Davis and his midfield colleague Ollie Norwood to make sure the Real Madrid ace doesn't have such an impact on the game this time. But how do you stop a man of Kroos's calibre?

Davis, who will win his 90th Northern Ireland cap tonight, says: "Whenever you watch players play, you obviously realise how good they are, but until you actually play them up close and personal, you don't fully appreciate how good they actually are.

"He dictated the play very well that day, so we're going to have to be a bit better at stopping that. They've got quality players throughout the pitch who can cause you problems.

"Kroos in particular dictated the play and started a lot of the attacks, finding balls between the lines and causing us a lot of problems. It's definitely something we have to be aware of.

"But I think we have a belief we can come here and get a result without underestimating the task in hand."

On Sunday, when they arrived in Hannover, boss Michael O'Neill replayed the Euro 2016 match to his squad. It showed again the great quality of the German side and the mammoth task in front of Davis and co.

Davis adds: "It was edited down, but there was still plenty of footage to see. But really, we know how good they are.

"They are a very intelligent side, very technical, and they manage to find solutions to all the problems whenever you think you have them in an area.

"We know what to expect, it's going to be a very difficult game, but we want to look forward to it and embrace the challenge."

Belfast Telegraph


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