Northern Ireland v Germany: Muller happy with any win over Irish


Thomas Muller knows Germany are yet to hit top form at Euro 2016 but called for calm ahead of their final Group C match against Northern Ireland in Paris.

Joachim Low's world champions followed up an opening 2-0 win over Ukraine with a dour 0-0 draw against Poland at the Stade de France on Thursday, where Muller was one of their many stellar names to endure an off night.

Nevertheless, they remain favourites to secure top spot in the group with a victory over Michael O'Neill's underdogs, and Muller told a news conference on Sunday that a healthy sense of perspective is in order.

"We must remain calm, otherwise you go crazy," he said. "Obviously we would like to create more opportunities and we will work on it, look for solutions."

The Bayern Munich forward also suggested the most devastating performance of Low's tenure in the World Cup semi-final two years ago has coloured subsequent analysis of their performances.

"Anyway, you [the media] are never really happy with us," he added. "Except the day when we won 7-1 against Brazil in the World Cup, but then it was not difficult to be happy.

"Whether we play well [or not] the result is never guaranteed. We are favourites against Northern Ireland, it is clear, but I'm a guy that would accept even a small victory."

Northern Ireland boss O'Neill made five changes ahead of his men also beating Ukraine by a two-goal margin, including the surprise call to drop his top scorer from qualifying, Kyle Lafferty.

The former Shamrock Rovers manager opted for Connor Washington in attack, having been inspired by seeing the inventive movement of Mario Gotze in the false nine role during Germany's opener.

But Gotze now finds his place under threat, with Mario Gomez a possible alternative on his international return if Low opts to bolster what was a toothless attack versus Poland with a conventional centre-forward.

Either way, Northern Ireland defender and captain Gareth McAuley knows he is likely to endure a tough outing, although the man who opened the scoring in Lyon last time out is relishing playing the role of the underdog once more.

"They're world champions, they're an incredible side," he said. "We've looked at bits and pieces of them without trying to scare ourselves.

"But you've got to give it a go, there's absolutely nothing to lose. There's no pressure. The supporters are delighted and they will go away delighted. They'll be so proud

"They'll make their way up to Paris and get right behind us again, and you never know. Football's romantic, isn't it? It's there to be got at. The underdogs are there to produce moments like this.

"We're obviously going to be underdogs. They have world-class, household names.

"But we're strong as a team. We'll stick together and leave everything on the pitch. Who knows what will happen?"



Key Opta stats:

- These two nations have met 14 times previously, with Germany winning eight to Northern Ireland's two.
- Northern Ireland's two wins over West Germany in qualifying for the 1984 European Championship remains the only occasion that a team has beaten Die Mannschaft home and away in a qualifying campaign.
- Northern Ireland have only lost one of their last 14 internationals -  the opening Group C match against Poland - winning seven and drawing six along the way. They have not conceded more than once in their last 15 internationals.
- Seven of Northern Ireland's last 10 goals in competitive games have come from set-pieces (four from corners, three from indirect free-kicks).
- The last time Germany failed to make it out of the group stages of a major tournament was at Euro 2004. Since then, they've made the last four at every single major competition.
- Thomas Muller has not scored or assisted a single goal in seven European Championship matches. He has 10 goals and six assists in 13 World Cup games.