A night to forget as Germany and Poland in Paris stalemate

Stick up the posters and call the police: the old Germany have gone missing.

Profligate against Ukraine first time out, almost entirely toothless here. That old efficiency is a thing of the past.

Instead their ‘false-9’ frontline, and a lot of ineffective sideways passing, cost them two crucial points in Group C. And Poland will leave Paris disappointed with a draw.

Having won their opening game, it is likely that Germany will progress to the next stage whatever happens across town at the Parc des Princes against Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

But, on this showing, Michael O’Neill’s men will be confident of pulling off an even more famous victory than yesterday’s one in Lyon.

As he did in Germany’s opening game, when they beat Ukraine 2-0, Joachim Low opted for Mario Gotze as a lone striker.

The baby-faced Bayern Munich midfielder looked like just about the least threatening centre forward in the history of the game.

Poland, meanwhile, were forced to make a significant change in their back line as Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was unable to recover from the thigh injury he sustained against Northern Ireland. His former colleague at the Emirates, Lukasz Fabianski, came in for him.

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And, unlike Germany, there was a more traditional concept when it came to attacking.

Their scorer against Northern Ireland, Arkadiusz Milik, partnered the towering Robert Lewandowski in a good, old-fashioned strike partnership.

In fact, this was only Poland’s eighth game at a Euro finals while the 1-0 victory in Nice was their first ever victory in seven previous attempts.

And Germany started like a team from a different league. Moving in the ball around with pace and intention, they should have scored after just four minutes but when Julian Draxler delivered the sort of cross a striker dreams of, Gotze – the 5ft 9in central midfielder, could only head it over.

Left-back Jonas Hector drilled a sixth-minute strike wide with Poland struggling to make it out of their own half while Toni Kroos should have done better when teed up by Thomas Muller 10 minutes later.

But Poland grew into the half and begun to press themselves. However, like Germany, they were unable to muster an actual shot on target in the first half.

And there were groans of disbelief when Milik somehow failed to open the scoring – or even trouble Manuel Neuer – within 30 seconds of the restart when he inexplicabily nodded Kamil Grosicki’s cross wide from three yards.

By now Poland looked like the team with the trophies and Milik again went close, swerving a low free-kick just wide of the post before only a last-ditch Jerome Boateng challenge denied Lewandowski a one-on-one with Neuer.

Joachim Low decided enough was enough for Gotze in the 65th minute, replacing him with Schurrle in a bid to make it stick up front, with Muller moving central.

But once again it was Poland who looked most like scoring and there was a second comedy miss from poor old Milik.

This time he completely fluffed his effort from 10 yards after some good work and a fine cutback from Kamil Grosicki.

Low, caught on camera with his hands down his pants at the weekend, decided it was time for another reshuffle 18 minutes from time when he introduced the man in his squad who most resembles a striker, Mario Gomez.

But not even the 30-year-old, who has scored 27 goals in 64 appearances for Germany, could provide the requisite breakthrough leaving both Poland and their established neighbours on four points heading into the final round of games in Group C.

Germany:

Neuer ; Howedes, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Kroos, Khedira; Muller, Ozil, Draxler 7 (Gomez 72); Gotze 5 (Schurrle 66).

Poland:

Fabianski 7; Piszczek 7, Glik 6, Pazdan 6, Jedrzejczyk 6; Blaszczykowski 7 (Kapustka 80), Krychowiak 6, Maczynski 6 (Jodlowiec 76), Grosicki 7 (Peszko 87); Milik 5, Lewandowski 7.

Ref:

Bjorn Kuipers


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