EURO 2016: Josh Magennis says Germany holds no fears for Northern Ireland
A meeting with world champions Germany in Paris next week holds no fear for a confident Northern Ireland side buoyed by their first Euro 2016 win.
It is only two years since Germany secured their fourth World Cup title, producing a 7-1 semi-final demolition of hosts Brazil en route to glory, and Joachim Low’s team are unbeaten in their two contests in France having taken four points from Ukraine and Poland.
Northern Ireland would seal their last-16 berth if they can inflict a fifth defeat on the Germans in 10 matches in the French capital and while former manager Sammy McIlroy this week claimed it would be the biggest result in the country’s history, there is nothing about Low’s squad that is terrifying Michael O’Neill’s men.
“I’ve always been brought up that the only person I fear is God. I’m quite religious so I don’t fear any man,” said forward Josh Magennis.
“I feel like we have the right preparation and if we go into it in the right way, anyone can be vulnerable.
“We know Germany are a very, very good team. They have a ridiculous amount of quality but in terms of fear, this isn’t an industry you can have fear in. If you let fear take hold of you, you’re like a rabbit in the headlights.
“We’re proud to wear the Northern Ireland badge, we come here with great confidence from finishing top of our group. There’s no team that we fear in this competition.”
Those remarks were echoed by winger Stuart Dallas, who highlighted a table-topping qualifying campaign as proof they can make an impact in France.
“A lot of people forget - they say we are here to make up numbers but we’re not, a lot of people seem to forget that we topped our group,” he added.
“We’re a good side - we don’t fear anyone.”
Northern Ireland’s last-16 hopes remain intact because of the 2-0 victory over Ukraine in Lyon on Thursday when O’Neill’s gamble of switching half of his outfield players came off.
Dallas was one of the quintet introduced to the starting line-up while Magennis, who combined with the Leeds man to tee up Niall McGinn for the second goal, was introduced off the bench.
“It was a massive decision,” Magennis said of O’Neill’s bold tactical move.
“If Jose Mourinho or Roy Hodgson did it they would be hailed as a magician. A lot of praise has to go to Michael and his backroom staff.
“At this level, especially with what’s at stake, you can’t take any liberties, you can’t have loyalty shown, it has to be put on the backburner and you have to move forward.
“After the Poland game, there wasn’t many (players) left afterwards who maybe could have said, ‘I deserve to start the next game’.
“We went back to 4-5-1, a formation that got us so much success in the qualifiers and it just seemed to work. The boys that stepped in were fantastic, we nullified their threat of the two wide men, kept a clean sheet and scored two goals.”