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