Northern Ireland have a daunting task at hand as they take on the Germans in Group C clash in what is perceived to be a rather one-sided affair. Germany will be confident going into this particular encounter but will be wary of the threat Michael O’Neill’s side possess. A win for either side would all but ensure their spot in the round of 16.
Qualification to the next round is highly likely for Northern Ireland, a defeat against Joachim Loew’s men notwithstanding.
Germany is yet to concede at the Euro 2016 and it would require a performance of extraordinary quality of football to break the deadlock. Northern Ireland will have to come out all guns blazing and carry their form from their exhilarating 2-0 win against Ukraine. A defeat for Ireland would set them up for a clash with the runners-up from group A in the next round.
Here are 5 players who may play a decisive role for respective teams as they go head to head at Parc des Princes in Paris:
#1 Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos has been in fine form off late and Germany will be dependent on him to pull the strings in the midfield.
His performance against Ukraine was reminiscent of the midfielder’s very best as he dictated the tempo and assisted Shkodran Mustafi with a sublime cross for the opening goal. Despite being relatively quiet against Poland, the 26-year-old managed to control the game from the center of the field.
With Northern Ireland probably set to camp in their own half, his creativity and balls from deeper regions of the midfield will be of vital importance. His presence is made all the more important due to his ability to be highly influential even in the final third. The onus of chance creation and responsibility of execution of a potential plan B will firmly rest on his shoulders.
Thus far he has shown that he is determined to lead his side to success and the German fans will be hoping that he carries on with his scintillating recent form in the game against Northern Ireland as well.