Written By: Bhavdeep Singh
Northern Ireland played Germany at Paris in their final match in the group stage and while the Germans required anything other than a loss to go into the next round, a win was pretty necessary for the Northern Irish to avoid the third place qualification troubles.
Northern Ireland kicked off the first half, and right off the bat seemed promising, they beat the lines and pulled Neuer out of his box, but it was all useless in the blink of an eye though, the Germans showed why they were the world champions by countering ever so well. It did not have much of an effect, but Michael O’Neill’s men seemed to take a step back to understand how the Germans were lining up, not a good move
It wasn’t much of a surprise to see the Germans constantly subjecting the opposition with attack after attack, so much so that by the 10th minute, they should’ve been up by 2 goals, credit given to the Northern Ireland goalkeeper, who was in top form and stopped both from ending up behind the net. Germany exploited the fact that the the Northern Irish had taken a step back early on in the game and simply dominated the half, the ball rarely ended up in their half and it was pretty surprising to see them goalless, of course, the goalkeeper, who was constantly being worked, did very well, but the overall finishing of the Germans (especially Mario Gotze) was far from impressive.
It was around the half hour mark when Thomas Muller, who was denied about thrice, ran through the defence into the box and when McGovern advanced, he passed the ball to Mario Gomez, who finished it quite well into an open goal. While conceding a goal is a boost to several teams, Northern Ireland’s condition did not improve. They were constantly stuck between wanting to attack and leaving spaces because any left were being exploited already. The half ended at 0-1 and while the Northern Irish boss had a lot to talk about, I believe all Joachim Low said to his team was “a little more of that with some proper finishing please”
As it happened, Germany followed that, well, most of it at least. Their domination did not seem to take a break and they started the half with two chances again, both to Mario Gotze, but again, McGovern saved the day. It wasn’t long before the scorer of the goal that won Germany the world cup was subbed off for the man that provided the assist, Andre Schurrle, it would be interesting to see if Low would start Gotze in the knockout stages.
Northern Ireland did seem to improve a little as well, they were slightly more confident moving forward as Steven Davis made a good run to call the German defence into action, but it wasn’t much of a problem for them. The real boost in confidence came when Kyle Lafferty was subbed on for Washington, who didn’t contribute to the attack as much as he would’ve wanted to. Perhaps Germany realised the threat and took a small step back, they were faster on the counter so it wasn’t much of a problem anyway.
The game then returned back to its original state, with Germany attacking and Northern Ireland defending, McGovern made a few good saves again, Mario Gomez was perhaps the most active of all, but it all came down to that one goal, not what we were expecting.
Overall, Germany were well organised, they were tactically ahead, faster and smarter in general, while the defence was quite sold and the mid was at its best, the attack looked slightly off with some poor finishing, they must work on that to reach far in the competition.
Northern Ireland on the other hand, had a disastrous game, Michael McGovern was their best player on the field and while the defence was good, the mid could not seem to put a decent long ball in, and the attack was pretty dead as it is. They were tactically weak and weren’t able to cope with the pressure put on them by the world champions, it would be nice to see them advance in the tournament, but if they are to play like this, it shall only end in disappointment.
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