Euro 2016: Germany and Poland play out a dull goalless draw
Milik missed a number of chances for Poland
Germany were held to a goalless draw by Poland after a dour first half was followed by a relatively exciting second half, with Poland having the better chances to score. The result leaves Germany on top of Group C with 4 points, with Poland second on the same number of points as well.
Germany XI: Neuer, Howedes, Boateng, Hummels, Hector, Kroos, Khedira, Muller, Ozil, Draxler, Gotze.
Poland XI: Fabianski, Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Jedrzejczyk, Blaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Maczynski, Grosicki, Milik, Lewandowski.
There is plenty of history between Poland and Germany, and not all of it relates to football. The battlefield was the pitch of the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris this time around, yet given the fervour with which the respective national anthems were sung, there could be no doubt about the importance of this game.
The game kicked off in a feisty manner, with Sami Khedira earning a yellow card in the 3rd minute, the earliest so far in the 2016 UEFA Euros. It did not seem to affect Germany, however, as Gotze flashed a header over the bar from Draxler’s cross. Germany continued to pepper the Polish goal with shots from Toni Kroos, but their opening blitzkrieg proved to be inaccurate.
Kroos and Mesut Ozil pulled the strings for Germany quite beautifully as the half progressed, but the Polish defensive block withstood the German assault. Ozil let his frustrations get the better of him by earning a yellow card for a foul on Grzegorz Krychowiak, which meant he had to be quite cautious.
The Poles withstood the rest of the half quite well, with Germany reduced to long pops at goal – mostly from Khedira, but they all went askew. The referee finally blew the whistle on a disappointing first half, with both sides heading into the break goalless.
There was more excitement in the opening 90 seconds of the second half than the first 45 minutes. First, Milik ought to have put the Poles ahead from Grosicki’s right-wing cross, but the Ajax striker made a mess of a diving header from two yards out, with the ball brushing his face and nestling wide of the goal. This was followed immediately by Gotze shooting right at Fabianski up the other end.
There was further action on the hour mark as Poland came close with two quick chances in succession – Lewandowski cleverly setting up his striking partner for a low free-kick strike that nearly caught out Neuer, which was followed by a clearance falling to the Bayern striker in space on the edge of the box, but was prevented from shooting by Boateng making up the yards and sliding in for a fantastic block.
Milik provided further frustration by missing a gilt-edged chance from a low cutback into the box, but his comical mishit had the Polish premier reacting in despair. It almost turned worse for the Poles seconds later as Ozil drew a fantastic save from Fabianski in the 70th minute.
Germany nearly created the opener in the 84th minute after swift interplay from Ozil and Muller found an overlapping Howedes in the box, but Pazdan charged forwards to clear. Despite the clock ticking, there was a distinct lack of urgency and the referee blew time on the game after a final free-kick from Germany not yielding anything of note.