Northern Ireland vs Germany preview, betting tips and prediction: Group leaders to narrowly edge impressive hosts

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Draw HT/Germany FT @ 13/5 with Bet365

Timo Werner to score first @ 3/1 with Bet365

Germany by exactly one goal @ 11/4 with Bet365

Germany, as world champions, have been expected to dominate their qualifying group, and they have done just that by winning eight games from eight, scoring 35 goals and conceding just two. They face a Northern Ireland side who, despite qualifying for Euro 2016, have surprised many with their form and have already booked a playoff spot.

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There is five points difference between the two sides heading into this clash, and having not yet dropped a point, it is hard to see Joachim Löw’s men failing to win this one. But it will be a tough game, because Northern Ireland have been just as strong in defence as Germany, albeit nowhere near as good in attack. They will frustrate their opponents but, in truth, Germany have so many attacking options that, eventually, that quality will tell. As the game goes on, they will tire the hosts out and that should give them opportunities to break through and win the game. Many will see this as a walkover for Germany, but it could go to the wire, and at 13/5, there is good value in backing Michael O’Neill’s men to stay in the game until late on.

Timo Werner is fast becoming the most important player in attack, providing the focal point. Although Thomas Muller sits at the top of the scoring charts for Die Mannschaft, Werner’s pace makes him a good option in a wincast at 3/1, though Muller offers great value at 4/1 also.

This is likely to be attack vs defence for long periods, but Germany will find it tough to break the home side’s resistance, particularly in the first half. The winning margin market offers good value, with two goals at the same price of 11/4. Germany won 2-1 against the Czech Republic thanks to a late Mats Hummels goal and they could find a similarly difficult challenge awaiting them in Belfast.

Key battle: Timo Werner vs Jonny Evans

Werner will not have much joy running in behind what will be a deep, regimented and organised Northern Irish back line. Evans will make sure he does not get the space to use his pace, making him play with his back to goal as much as possible. That will be best hope of the visitors keeping him quiet.

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But if he can get as run on Evans, then suddenly the young RB Leipzig striker becomes the main threat. Breaking through the defence will be the toughest job for Germany and they cannot afford a laboured, sloppy performance. They must play with real intensity and pace, both physically and with their passing. Having a striker running in behind or even into the channels will create more space for through balls in the middle of the pitch, and that is exactly what Evans and Northern Ireland will be hoping to avoid at any and all costs.

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