HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - Germany’s winning to start to the World Cup qualifiers with two wins in two matches is a reaction by the world champions following their Euro 2016 semi-final exit to show they remain one of the best teams, defender Mats Hummels said.
Hummels sees Tuesday’s qualifier against Northern Ireland as another chance to prove the 2014 World Cup winners will be title contenders in Russia.
The Germans beat the Czech Republic 3-0 on Saturday to top their group on six points after easing past Norway by the same score in their group opener last month.
“This start is a reaction to the Euro defeat (to France in the semi-finals) and also to our Euro qualifying campaign that was not as good,” Hummels told reporters on Monday.
“We want to invest everything we have from the start of this two-year process. We have to collect ourselves again. We are on a good track and want to show that we are one of the best teams. I don’t think there is just one.”
Germany are top of Group C, ahead of Azerbaijan on goal difference. Northern Ireland are third on four points.
The Germans will probably have Jerome Boateng alongside Hummels in central defence as he has recovered from a minor injury sustained in the Czech game.
Full back Jonas Hector, who along with Boateng will complete only part of their final training session, is also expected to be fit for the match.
The Germans struggled against the Northern Irish at this year’s European Championship, winning 1-0 against a negative opponent in the group stage.
“The Irish were very defensive in that game and I expect them to be like that again on Tuesday,” Hummels said.
“We had to invest a lot in our running game and we managed to beat them. But it can become a waiting game. It is us up to us not to allow it,” said the central defender.
“We again will have to be the attacking side and they will be compact at the back. So we will have to see if we can crack their backline early on, if at all. I certainly hope we can do it.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond