The setting: The impressive Stade de France in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. The match: Germany against Poland, one of the great tournament fixtures and the biggest game of Group C. With a win from their opening game, the path is now open for one of them to book their place in the last sixteen with a game to spare.
Pre-tournament group outsider Northern Ireland’s surprise but wholly deserved 2-0 win over Ukraine has but them in with a chance of making the knock-out stages while effectively eliminating the Ukrainians, and they will surely be watching this evening’s encounter with interest.
There is one change to the starting eleven for the Mannschaft, with the fit-again Mats Hummels coming into the the centre of the four-man defence alongside Jérôme Boateng. Otherwise it is a case of “as you were”, with Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw sticking with the same 4-2-3-1 formation – with Mario Götze given another shot as the designated “false nine”.
Poland coach Adam Nawałka has made a couple of tweaks to his team, but the biggest change sees back up ‘keeper Łukasz Fabiański come in for the injured Wojciech Szczęsny.
The weather in France has not been great over the last couple of days, and the conditions are dry if slightly overcast. Germany are again in their traditional white shirts and black shorts, and the Poles are in all red. Let’s do this!
1 min. The Mannschaft get the show on the road. The first action sees Krzysztof Mączyński go down under Sami Khedira’s challenge.
3 mins. Khedira is right in the centre of the action at the moment, and is booked by Dutch referee Björn Kuipers for a clip on Arkadiusz Milik.
4 mins. The first opportunity for Germany. Julian Draxler makes space for himself on the left before swinging in an excellent cross into the Polish penalty area. Götze is there to meet it, but can only send it over the crossbar. Might the other Mario, with his additional height, done better?
6 mins. Draxler finds space again and has a crack from just out side the box that flies wide of the target.
10 mins. The Mannschaft have started well, have fashioned a couple of early openings, and are looking sharp on the ball. with close to eighty percent possession.
15 mins. There’s a break for Poland as Hummels is out-muscled by Robert Lewandowski. The FC Bayern München striker cannot find another red shirt though, and the danger is cleared by his club team mate Jérôme Boateng. The play quickly switches to the other side where Germany win their first corner of the match.
16 mins. Thomas Müller is too strong for Łukasz Piszczek, and sends in a low cross into the opposition box from the left byline. Toni Kroos stretches for the ball and just about gets there, but his effort goes wide.
17 mins. Draxler wins another corner, and this time Kroos’s kick is easily collected by Fabiański.
19 mins. Poland win a free-kick just inside the German half after Lewandowski is brought down by Hummels.
21 mins. Milik and Lewandowski do well to engineer a shooting chance for the Poles at the edge of the German penalty area, but Benedikt Höwedes executes a solid block.
24 mins. Kroos is bundled over by Artur Jędrzejczyk, but the quickly-taken free-kick does go anywhere.
25 mins. What is this? Kroos misplaces a pass, putting the ball into touch.
27 mins. Poland are getting more time on the ball now, but the German defence is looking far more coordinated than they did against Ukraine.
29 mins. There’s some concern for Khedira when he goes under Mączyński’s challenge, but everything looks OK for the Juventus man.
31 mins. Boateng lifts a dangerous-looking ball into the box towards Draxler, but the VfL Wolfsburg man is unable to bring it under control.
34 mins. Grzegorz Krychowiak stumbles to the ground as Mesut Özil challenges, and the Germany playmaker is inexplicably shown the yellow card.
38 mins. There’s sone neat passing deep inside the Poland half, and a Götze effort hits the base of the post after being set up by Müller’s tap back. The flag is already up though, as Müller is just offside.
42 mins. Kroos is well challenged and Poland look break quickly, but Lewandowski is well watched by Boateng and is flagged for offside.
43 mins. Another German corner, and another easy Polish clearance.
44 mins. Khedira spots a loose defensive clearance and rifles a shot, but sends his effort well wide.
45 mins. Müller is fouled by Mączyński who becomes the first Polish player to make the referee’s notebook. There is no additional time, and the whistle is blown for half-time.
A decent opening forty-five minutes with plenty of smart play and possession (over 65%) from Jogi Löw’s men, but nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. Both goalkeepers have had little to do, and while Germany has largely dominated the game their mission to unlock and gently prise open the Polish defence has pretty much failed.
An early cross could very well have been finished by a taller, specialist striker – and after that there has been something of a reticence to send the ball into the box from decent positions.
46 mins. No changes from either side, and Poland get things going again. Poland are quick to get men forward, and after some great work down the right from Jakub Błaszczykowski, Kamil Grosicki’s cross is almost perfect for Milik – who makes a complete mess of a free header with the goal at his mercy.
Arkadiusz Milik misses an absolute sitter for Poland, with Manuel Neuer left helpless
47 mins. Germany respond immediately, moving at pace down the middle of the pitch. A lovely pass from Kroos finds Götze, whose shot is easily parried by Fabiański.
51 mins. There’s a break for Poland who look to have a man up on the German defence, but Hummels makes a brilliant tackle on the fast-moving Milik to stave off the danger.
52 mins. Hector shifts down and left and looks to send in a low cross towards Müller, but he is beaten to it by a red shirt, who clears.
55 mins. There’s plenty of aerial pressure from the Poles in the German box, but Germany break fast down the middle as Draxler picks up the pace. The number eleven has his shirt tugged by Grosicki, who is shown the yellow card.
58 mins. Krychowiak is upended by Müller just some twenty-two yards from the German goal, and is rewarded with a free-kick in a promising position. Lewandowski taps it wide for Milik, whose shot fizzes just past Neuer’s right post. The German ‘keeper had it covered though.
59 mins. Lewandowski has having a good spell at the moment, and beats the offside trap before turning towards the German goal. As he looks to get control of the ball, Boateng dispossesses him with a fantastic challenge.
65 mins. The action has been frenetic since the restart, and the Mannschaft need to reassert some control again. Kroos has a go from distance, but there’s no danger for Fabiański as the ball flies over the target.
66 mins. The first change for the Mannschaft, as Götze’s evening comes to an end. There’s still no Gómez though – André Schürrle is on the pitch.
67 mins. Boateng is late on Milik, and becomes the third German player to be carded.
69 mins. The Poles break brilliantly again, and Milik has his second golden opportunity to put his team in front. He can only scuff his effort though, and the chance is gone. The play immediately swings to the other end, and Özil sends in a lovely left-footed shot that is turned over by Fabiański.
72 mins. Draxler is off, and Mario Gómez is on. Kroos has a shot on goal, but Fabiański collects with ease.
74 mins. The two substitutions see Schürrle slot into the left of the offensive midfield unit, with Gómez up front as the not-at-all-false nine. There are fifteen minutes for the Germans to do something here.
76 mins. Poland make their first change, with Mączyński making way for Tomasz Jodłowiec.
78 mins. Gómez makes himself busy in the Polish penalty area, and the balls falls to Müller who tries to fashion a shot out of nothing.
80 mins. There’s signs of another buildup towards the Polish goal, but Höwedes cross floats harmlessly wide. Poland make their second change of the evening, as Bartosz Kapustka comes on for Błaszczykowski.
84 mins. Boateng is penalised for a handball just outside the box, but Grosicki’s ball is overhit and floats harmlessly over.
85 mins. Höwedes has a chance to engineer something in the Polish box, but is muscled off the ball by a Polish defender.
87 mins. Poland’s final change. Sławomir Peszko is on for Grosicki.
88 mins. Jędrzejczyk goes down under pressure from Müller and wins another free-kick for the Poles, but the delivery is again poor.
90 mins. There are three minutes of additional time, and sweeper keeper Neuer looks to set up what could be the last attack of the match. Poland are piling everybody in at the back now, and there is no easy way through for the men in white.
90+2 mins. Schürrle is able to get a cross into the Polish box, but it’s too high for Müller whose makes a spectacular-looking effort.
90+3 mins. Özil is right by the corner flag, and is hacked down by Peszko who is deservedly booked. Is there another last-minute twist? No. The ball is punched clear by Fabiański, and the next sound is the final whistle.
Not the greatest game one will see at this year’s Euros, and despite dominating the possession and spending plenty of time in the Polish half, Jogi Löw’s men could consider themselves lucky to get a point. The best German players on the pitch were defenders, with the much-vaunted midfield unit having something of an off night.
On another evening Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik would have put at least one of his two excellent chances away, and that would have been the end of that. In fact, Milik’s misses were so bad that Manuel Neuer didn’t have to make a single save.
In the end the 0-0 draw is probably a fair result, putting both teams on four points with Germany in front on goal difference. Third-placed Northern Ireland are a point behind, with Ukraine sitting pointless at the foot of the table. As goal difference is the first tie-breaker for teams on the same number of points (rather than the head to head result) the Ukrainians are still mathematically in the competition.
v Poland, Stade de France, Saint-Denis, 16.06.2016
– / –
Germany: Neuer (c) – Hector, Boateng, Hummels, Höwedes – Khedira, Kroos – Draxler (72. Gómez), Özil, Müller – Götze (66. Schürrle)
Poland: Fabiański – Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Jędrzejczyk – Krychowiak, Maczyński (76. Jodłowiec) – Błaszczykowski (80. Kapustka), Grosicki (87. Peszko) – Milik, Lewandowski (c)
Referee: Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Assistants: Sander van Roekel (Netherlands), Erwin Zeinstra (Netherlands)
Goal Assistants: Pol van Boekel (Netherlands), Richard Liesveld (Netherlands)
Fourth Official: Daniele Orsato (Italy)
Reserve Assistant: Elenito Di Liberatore (Italy)
Referee Observer: Hugh Dallas (Scotland)
Yellow Cards: Khedira, Özil, Boateng / Mączyński, Grosicki, Peszko
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 63% / 37%
Attempts on Target: 3 / 0
Attempts off Target: 9 / 3
Corners: 8 / 2
Fouls Committed: 14 / 9
Man of the Match: Jérôme Boateng (Germany)