EURO 2016: Reputations will count for nothing against Germany, insists Northern Ireland midfielder Corry Evans

Corry Evans
Corry Evans

The names and reputations of Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller will mean nothing to Corry Evans on Tuesday when Northern Ireland aim to upset the world champions.

Michael O’Neill’s side conclude their Group C campaign at Euro 2016 in Paris with a game against Joachim Low’s Germany, who sealed their fourth World Cup title in Brazil two years ago.

German star Toni Kroos

German star Toni Kroos

When Evans and his colleagues look across the tunnel at the Parc des Princes they will see some of the game’s most decorated and renowned players, yet the Northern Ireland midfielder insists their standing within the game cannot be considered.

“When you’re on the pitch, it doesn’t matter,” the 25-year-old said.

“In the build-up to the games the media builds these players up, but when you actually get on a pitch and in and around them it’s just another game to me personally.

“Obviously you respect your opponent, but you’ve got to earn respect from them, play your own game, just try and do what we do best and get in and around these players and make it difficult for them.”

O’Neill’s team have been able to nullify some of the continent’s most recognised players already in France, keeping Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in check before silencing Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka when they defeated Ukraine.

One thing they have not been able to keep quiet is the noise from the stands, though, with the high decibel levels contributing to the confusion in the last game when neither Evans or Stuart Dallas knew if they were being withdrawn for Paddy McNair late on.

“It was so loud on the pitch on Thursday you couldn’t actually hear and it got lost with communication,” Evans explained.

“It is very loud, especially the other night when we were scoring the two goals, the noise was incredible.

“On the pitch as well, the lads have even discussed it, and I’ve seen it first hand from Michael trying to get information on to the players against Poland – he’s shouting, his lungs are hurting, no one can hear him. It’s so loud, it’s so hard unless you’re very close to someone to get information on.

“Personally I haven’t played in a stadium that loud before. To be fair, Blackburn v Burnley is very loud, that’s really loud, but these last two games have been something else, the noise the fans have been making.”

On the field, the key could be how Northern Ireland begin in Paris, with a sluggish opening contributing to the Poland defeat before a faster start against the Ukrainians helped set the tone.

“Straight from the kick-off Conor (Washington) and Steven (Davis) were pressing and I think we got a corner really early on,” Evans added.

“That’s when I knew, ‘Right, they are going to be rattled here.’ And they didn’t really seem to recover from that start.

“Credit to the lads, we managed to keep it up for 90 minutes. I just think the Ukrainians didn’t really know what to do after that.”