Saturday 1 October 2016

Milik fails to deliver as Poles highlight German inefficiency

Germany 0 Poland 0

Jonathan Liew

Published 17/06/2016 | 02:30

Sami Khedira of Germany and Grzegorz Krychowiak of Poland (Photo by Nolwenn Le Gouic/Icon Sport)
Sami Khedira of Germany and Grzegorz Krychowiak of Poland (Photo by Nolwenn Le Gouic/Icon Sport)

Two unbeaten sides left the pitch here at the Stade de France, and yet they did so in strikingly different moods.

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Poland were savouring their best result at a major tournament in a generation, having held the world champions, their rivals and neighbours, with a display of unbreakable resolve. They were one of the dark horses before the start of the tournament, and now they are showing why.

In the German camp, meanwhile, there were slumped shoulders and quizzical looks. This is not a disaster for them, but there will now be real concerns over whether a team without strikers might also be a team without threat.

Restricted largely to half-chances and shots from distance, they met a Polish side who kept their heads in defence and might even have won the game if Arkadiusz Milik had taken one of his chances.

Germany's midfielder Julian Draxler (R) is tackled by Poland's midfielder Kamil Grosicki (Photo: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Germany's midfielder Julian Draxler (R) is tackled by Poland's midfielder Kamil Grosicki (Photo: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

It was a good result, too, for Northern Ireland, who are now guaranteed third place in Group C, if not yet qualification. Ukraine are out. But really, this was a story of German inefficiency, an inability to convert possession and pressure into sufficient chances.

Germany's Plan A - with its multiple centres, its shifting triangles, its buzzing bees - will be enough to get them through the group stage. But in the nip and tuck of the knockouts, Plan B may play an increasing role.

Poland defended them as any team must: narrowly, watchfully, physically, winning the 50-50 challenges and sweeping up the second balls. And so, as predicted, German keep-ball met Polish counter-attack.

Poland cut the Germans open at the start of the second half, Milik inexplicably heading wide from six yards. It would not be Milik's last miss of the game: he would later miskick completely from 18 yards when well set.

Poland's forward Robert Lewandowski is challenged by Germany's defender Jerome Boateng (Photo: FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Poland's forward Robert Lewandowski is challenged by Germany's defender Jerome Boateng (Photo: FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)

With Jerome Boateng masterfully marshalling his Bayern team-mate Robert Lewandowski, Poland had precious few opportunities. Neither did Germany, despite Low trying everything he could to vary the lines of attack, although on one counter, Mesut Ozil forced a wonderful flying save out of Lukasz Fabianski.

But Poland answered all Germany's questions, and now the world champions are facing a few of their own. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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