Build up to the match
The World Cup qualifiers in Europe are nearing its fateful conclusion and all eyes will be on Northern Ireland if they can pull off the impossible and snatch automatic qualification from heavy favourites Germany. Indeed, the Irishmen have only lost once in their previous eight games in World Cup qualifying and stand a small chance of qualifying for football’s grandest stage next year. Can they pull it off?
Kickoff: Thursday, 5th October 2017, 7:45PM England time
Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast, Ireland
West Brom’s Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans, and Chris Brunt are all available for Norn Iron on Friday. They will provide solid defensive options for the home side. They will, however, be disappointed to miss Aaron Hughes through injury. Millwall midfielder George Saville has also been called-up by head coach Michael O’Neill, and it will be interesting what the new boy can bring to the team.
Germany are set to miss RB Leipzig’s explosive centre-forward Timo Werner although manager Joachim Low can expect the attack to come from Manchester City star Leroy Sane and Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller. Die Mannschaft also have Antonio Rudiger, Matthias Ginter, and Mats Hummels in defence, providing a rigid backline that will prove resilient against any attack.
Northern Ireland have won their last six matches in World Cup qualifying Group C, but they should be under no illusion their upcoming match will be easy pickings. They are set to face Germany, the only team that beat them in the group; as such, the difficulty of the task ahead has been made clear.
Germany are undefeated in Group C in will be keen to continue that ruthless streak come Thursday. They are the favourites in this match and any result other than a win at Windsor Park will be unacceptable.
With five points separating the two sides in the race for automatic qualification, there is a chance Northern Ireland could indeed snatch that prize away from Germany should they manage to defeat the visitors come Thursday. But make no mistake, Die Mannschaft have this in the bag. The gulf in class will be made apparent come Thursday.
Northern Ireland 0-2 Germany