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Hard work starts now, says Germany coach Loew

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany training - Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France - 11/6/16 - Germany coach Joachim Loew controls the ball during training. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany training - Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France - 11/6/16 - Germany coach Joachim Loew controls the ball during training. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

By Philip Blenkinsop

LILLE, France (Reuters) - Germany coach Joachim Loew said his team would need work hard in order to suppress the attacking threat of Poland when the two sides meet in Euro 2016 on Thursday in a match likely to determine the winner of Group C.

Germany won their opener 2-0 against Ukraine on Sunday thanks to a 19th-minute header from stand-in centre back Shkodran Mustafi and stoppage-time goal from Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Yet they relied on three fine saves from keeper Manuel Neuer and a goal line clearance by Jerome Boateng to take the points.

"We have both won," Loew said of his side and Poland, who beat Northern Ireland 1-0 thanks to an Arkadiusz Milik goal.

"So the game is really important for the future of the group. I think we will really have to put in some work."

Germany and Poland played each other twice in the tournament's qualifying competition, winning one match each.

"Poland are in any case a strong team. We've played them twice and of course we lost once. With (Robert) Lewandowski they are strong in attack. Like Ukraine a little, they have dangerous players going forward."

Toni Kroos, who was man of the match, admitted Germany had come under pressure in the final 15 minutes of the first half when Ukraine laid siege to their goal.

"We weren't so strong and we couldn't have complained if we had conceded," he said.

"I can't think of any chances in the second half. We are not at the level we want to achieve but it's a good start," he added.

Germany survived until halftime, when coach Loew was able to help restore order.

"It's normal that there's a phase when you're not so in control," Kroos said. "He said that we needed to get back to the point when we started."

Loew was also full of praise for Schweinsteiger, who started on the bench after recently returning from injury but came on in the 90th-minute and scored Germany's second goal in injury time.

"I'm very pleased that after all he's been through, the weeks and months, he has made a real comeback," he said. "I think it gives him personally and the whole team a real boost."

(Editing by Toby Davis)

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