Euro 2016: Group C and D – Northern Ireland’s biggest game in 30 years

by Sam Peoples

With Group A and B already wrapped up at Euro 2016, Tuesday night will see the final games from Group C and D played out in France.

The main story of the day is no doubt whether or not Northern Ireland can overcome Germany to secure their place in the final 16. Having beaten Ukraine in a convincing 2-0 win in their previous game, the Norn Iron players will be bursting with confidence and Manchester United’s Paddy McNair will be hoping for a return to the starting XI.

Man United’s other potential representative in that game is Bastian Schweinsteiger but the veteran German midfielder is expected to be on the bench once again because he’s not yet fit enough to start. He’s been getting some minutes under his belt which is all helping him move in the right direction bit by bit and that’s certainly good news for United.

Spain have already qualified for the Euro 2016 knock-out stages show Spain are favourites at even money and United’s David de Gea is expected to start in goal once again. He’s broken Gordon Banks’ international record of 442 consecutive minutes without conceding and it’s a testament both to how dominant Spain are in possession as well as just how good De Gea is in goal.

croatia v spain-min

Team news: Northern Ireland vs Germany

If Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill reverts to a more defensive set-up which they had in their first game, Conor McLaughlin, Kyle Lafferty and Paddy McNair might start.

For Germany, Joachim Low may decide to drop Mario Gotze who hasn’t been in good form at Euro 2016 and there are three players who are one yellow card away from a ban – Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil.

Team news: Croatia vs Spain

Luka Modric injured his groin against the Czech Republic and is more than likely going to miss the Spain game which is excellent news for Spain. Vedran Corluka is a doubt as well.

Having already qualified for the knock-out rounds, Vicente del Bosque may decide to rest some players.

Northern Ireland’s game against Germany is their biggest in 30 years and it’s hard not to get behind them and will them to win – everyone likes an underdog. The good thing for Norn Iron is that because they beat Ukraine, a draw is enough to qualify for the knock-outs. They could even go through if they lose but they’d be relying on other results. One thing is for sure – they’ll give the game absolutely everything, here’s hoping it’s enough.

Elsewhere, Ukraine face Poland and Czech Republic face Turkey in the other two games from these groups which don’t have a United representative. Poland and Czech Republic are certainly favourites but there have been a few upsets so far at Euro 2016 and if we’re looking at the best case scenario for Northern Ireland, we want Ukraine to win.

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