Northern Ireland surprised many with a win against Ukraine, so now they can qualify for the next stage even with a defeat here. Germany is looking for three points to secure the top spot in the Group C, but maybe a single point will be enough, depending on the result between Poland and Ukraine. The Green and White Army was a huge underdog before the Euro started, but they certainly showed everyone they aren’t pushovers, despite the poor performance in the opening game with Poland. They could even win the group with a win, but that’s not very likable.
Northern Ireland stunned Ukraine and ended the Ukrainians’ dreams of going through the next round. Michael O’Neill’s squad played smart, was solid at the back, waited for their chances and eventually won 2-0. The result was unexpected, and one of the biggest favorites to finish the competition without a point made a big statement with that win. Head coach changes some players from the first game, and it turned out to be a great decision. The prospect of playing against the World Cup holders and potentially advancing to the next round will boost the players’ morale, and it won’t be easy for the Germans to defeat them.
Germany disappointed a bit in a dull 0-0 draw against Poland, but they could still top the group with a win. The Polish defended very well, and it was tough for Joachim Low’s side to penetrate and score a goal. They shouldn’t have the same problems with Northern Ireland, but the rival cannot be underestimated. Low will probably field the similar starting lineup like he did in the first two matches, and is evident they’re not playing better without a classic striker since Miroslav Klose retired from international football. Mario Gomez failed to make an impact, but it doesn’t mean he will not get a chance in the next fixtures. The tradition is on the German side; they haven’t lost to Northern Ireland since 1983.
Michael O’Neill will be glad to give the chance to the majority of the players that starred against Ukraine, but the central striker Kyle Lafferty could be back instead of Connor Washington. The defense should be unchanged.
Northern Ireland possible starting lineup: McGovern; Hughes, Cathcart, J. Evans, McAuley; C. Evans, Dallas, Ward, Davis, Norwood; Lafferty.
Joachim Low could decide to bench Gotze and give Mario Gomez to lead the attack from the start. He had an excellent season in Besiktas, and should get his chance to shine. The defense was rock solid in both previous matches, and will remain the same.
Germany possible starting lineup: Neuer; Howedes, Hummels, Boateng, Hector; Khedira, Kroos; Muller, Ozil, Draxler (Schurrle); Gomez (Gotze).