Davis: The heat is all on Germany and Holland to qual­ify

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football - By Ian Parker

Steven Davis, the North­ern Ire­land cap­tain, be­lieves the pres­sure is on Germany and Holland as the Euro 2020 qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign moves into its de­ci­sive stage.

Michael O’neill’s side have given them­selves the best chance pos­si­ble of beat­ing one of the two heavy­weights to a place at next year’s fi­nals by win­ning their first four games in Group C, home and away to Be­larus and Es­to­nia.

Now as they pre­pare for tonight’s match with Germany at Wind­sor Park, Davis said the weight of ex­pec­ta­tion was on their op­po­nents.

“In the first four games we weren’t look­ing at the oth­ers too much,” said the Rangers mid­fielder, who stands to break Aaron Hughes’s record of 112 out­field caps. “We were just fo­cus­ing on our­selves, get­ting max­i­mum points. We knew that would be dif­fi­cult and it proved to be dif­fi­cult, but we man­aged it.

“We wanted to be in a po­si­tion in these four games with all to play for. In many ways the pres­sure’s on Holland and Germany.

“Do I be­lieve we can go and get re­sults against them? 100 per cent yes. Would we beat them if we played them reg­u­larly? No.”

North­ern Ire­land have not beaten Germany since a 1-0 win over the old West Germany in 1983, and have lost their last seven meet­ings.

Three of those de­feats have come un­der O’neill, who also picked up on the theme of ex­pec­ta­tions.

“I think if any team from a coun­try of our size can qual­ify from a group with Holland and Germany in it then they prob­a­bly de­serve a wee pat on the back,” O’neill said.

“That’s what we’ll be aim­ing for. These are two are in the top eight, 10 teams in Europe. That’s the chal­lenge, so if we can come out of this group at the ex­pense of ei­ther Holland or Germany, it will be an amaz­ing achieve­ment.”

Manchester City mid­fielder Ilkay Gun­do­gan has been ruled out of the Germany squad due to con­tract­ing flu, ac­cord­ing to the Ger­man FA.

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