NORTHERN IRELAND conclude their Euro 2020 qualifying group with a trip to Germany. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) sets the scene.
Germany v Northern Ireland | Tuesday 19th November 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Germany have sealed their place at Euro 2020 following the 4-0 win over Belarus but will want to conclude their qualification campaign with a win in Frankfurt.
The last 18 months have been turbulent for Joachim Low and his troops, suffering a humiliating World Cup group stage exit and finishing bottom of their Nations League group having failed to beat Holland and France in four attempts with an identity crisis crippling the squad.
The possession-based football became far too predictable to play against and an out of form defence, including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, were ruthlessly exposed against sides with pace in their forward line who pressed from the front. Since defeat in Kazan to South Korea, Low has managed to keep his job but has had to negotiate the squad overhaul carefully.
His commitment to certain players though, particularly the aforementioned Neuer, has led to disharmony amongst his teammates – namely Andre Ter Stegen who was only deemed worthy enough to feature in recent friendly games and was dropped for the World Cup to make way for Neuer despite the latter being injured for much of the season prior to the tournament.
Ter Stegen eventually went public with his discontent which led to Bayern Munich’s President threatening to withdraw all his team’s players from the squad if Neuer was dropped. Although the situation seems to have cooled, it summed up the mess that the German national team have been in and the failures in man-management which was a key reason to the World Cup failings as Low failed to integrate the youngsters that won the 2017 Confederations Cup quickly enough.
Despite all that, there’s no doubting that in-depth quality remains throughout the Germany squad of players. Injuries have led to rotation and experimentation in defence in recent games but further forward the likes of Marco Reus, Timo Werner and Serge Gnabry (who has 10 goals in his first 11 caps) have become mainstays in the team.
Gnabry sealed the three points with a stoppage time goal in the reverse fixture at Windsor Park in September and I was looking to back him as an anytime goalscorer again here but there’s no value in the 22/25 best price with Unibet.
Both side’s qualifiers to date have seen the second half being more action packed than the first and it’s an angle I want to get on side again in Frankfurt. The Germans have scored 14 of their 24 goals in the second 45 minutes including three of their four strikes against Belarus and both goals in the 2-0 win in Belfast.
Therefore, the 6/5 price with WilliamHill on Germany to win the second half and over 1.5 second half goals with their ‘YourOdds’ feature appeals.
Northern Ireland are notoriously tough to break down as they proved against Holland and could even have stolen all three points had Steven Davis dispatched his penalty on the half hour mark.
Craig Cathcart and Jonny Evans, who has started the season superbly for Leicester, have formed a solid partnership for several years now and the Green and White Army won’t have cared one jot about Dutch manager Ronald Koeman’s criticism of the way Michael O’Neill’s men set-up.
Twelve of the fifteen goals that have been scored in Northern Ireland’s seven Group C games have come in the second half and with the qualification status of both teams already settled heading into the match, we could well be in store for another slow burner.
I also like the look of Germany to win to nil at 9/10 with BetVictor due to the lack of the away side’s potency. Holland goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was not required to make a single save in Saturday’s 0-0 draw and with Germany likely to match or better their 75% possession from the reverse win, I can’t see how a Northern Ireland side which lost the shot count 23-2 in their last competitive away game can cause Germany many problems.
Germany v Northern Ireland – Germany to win the Second-Half and Over 1.5 Second-Half Goals (6/5 William Hill)
Germany v Northern Ireland – Germany to win ‘to nil' (9/10 BetVictor)