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Preview - Germany to pack bigger punch against Northern Ireland

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany Training - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France 19/6/16 - Germany's coach Joachim Loew during training. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany Training - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France 19/6/16 - Germany's coach Joachim Loew during training. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Karolos Grohmann

EVIAN, France (Reuters) - Germany have promised that their attack will pack a bigger punch when they face Northern Ireland on Tuesday after struggling up front in their first two Euro 2016 matches.

The Germans will definitely go through to the tournament's last 16 with a win or a draw in their final Group C game but they will need to be more clinical in front of goal, having scored just twice in their two matches so far.

"In attack we have not had the goal success we want," said attacking midfielder Thomas Mueller, who is fresh from his most prolific scoring season at Bayern Munich with 20 league goals.

"From forwards that is what is expected and we are measured by our goalscoring abilities."

Neither goal in the 2-0 opening win over Ukraine came from a forward with central defender Shkodran Mustafi and holding midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger on target.

They followed that up with a goalless draw against Poland.

Coach Joachim Loew must decide whether to stick with misfiring attacking midfielder Mario Goetze up front or use his only out-and-out striker Mario Gomez, top scorer in the Turkish league last season, or even deploy winger Andre Schuerrle through the middle.

"Of course we want to have more punch in attack. Both in training and in the analysis we are looking for some solutions but we are in a good position," Goetze said.

Germany are expected to advance comfortably from their group but Mueller warned fans they were unlikely to see a high-scoring affair against the Northern Irish.

"I don't expect it to be any goal bonanza," he said. "We have to be realistic. Northern Ireland will be thinking about defending until the final minute.

"They will be with many players around the box so it does not matter what skills you have with the ball. It just will not be a walk in the park."

The Northern Irish are brimming with confidence after beating Ukraine 2-0 to notch their first win in a major tournament in 34 years, following a defeat by Poland in their opener.

They may not be able to match their upcoming opponents for class but they have so far demonstrated their credentials for concealing weaknesses and maximising their strengths.

Goals from Gareth McAuley and Niall McGinn against Ukraine ended their long wait for a tournament victory that stretched back to the 1982 World Cup, when Gerry Armstrong's low finish famously downed hosts Spain.

"We know what Germany are all about, and they have some of the best players in the world," said Northern Ireland midfielder Jamie Ward. "We respect them, but do not fear them.

"Our game is all about working hard and not giving people time on the ball. That might be different to what Germany have experienced before."

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis)

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