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Low's new Germany comes at a price

Germany
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Deschamps: France still not over Euro final loss

France
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 By PA Sport

Germany focused on World Cup-Euro double despite criticism - Hummels

Mats Hummels insists Germany will not be affected by criticism of his team as they chase international football's holy grail of a World Cup and Euro 2016 double.

The reigning world champions completed their Group C campaign in style by defeating Northern Ireland in Paris to seal top spot after a first-half performance as good as any seen in the tournament so far.

Thomas Muller twice hit the woodwork, either side of a goal from Mario Gomez, while Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern made three brilliant saves in a stand-out performance.

It was a reminder of the quality Joachim Low's men had demonstrated in South America two years earlier, and gave an indication that they could follow Spain in sealing a world and European double this summer.

"It would be very big again, of course,'' Hummels said. "If you manage to win both tournaments that's all you can achieve as a national team player. It's a very big goal for us this tournament. We're focused to get it done.

"It's not something you have to make. It's something you can make, but it's not like it would be a big disappointment if we face a really good team like Italy or Spain or France or England, then it's always possible to lose against them.''

Germany's win vs. Northern Ireland put them through to the knockout stages as Group C winners.

It was also a marked improvement on the goalless draw with Poland in the same city five days earlier.

After that showing, when Low's men toiled while trying three different attacking spearheads, former midfielder Michael Ballack accused this team of lacking character and personality.

According to Hummels, such barbs come with the territory.

"We have big quality in our team, very good quality,'' added the Bayern Munich-bound 27-year-old. "We have many good individual players and we have a good defence, of course, as a base. It will be hard to beat us.

"It's always the same. If we don't win a game there are 10,000 things you have to criticise in Germany. At the end of the day you'll never win every game.

"You kind of get used to it but of course if we see it differently we just have to say it, like we did last week [after Ballack's comments].''

Sterner tests than Northern Ireland lie in store in the knockout phase, though Michael O'Neill's men will join the Germans in the last 16. Meanwhile Low's team will play Slovakia on June 26 in Lille (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Hummels, who was true to his word and grabbed Will Grigg's shirt after the game, was impressed with the industry of Northern Ireland, but knows they will not lose their underdog tag in the next fixture.

"They worked hard, they always work hard,'' Hummels noted. "They live that and they always play this, so they always have the chance to make the game difficult for the other teams. Whoever they face in the next round, the other team is going to be the favourite, that's no surprise.''

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