Bayern Munich’s stars will be on full display as Germany and Poland clash in their second Euro 2016 group stage game at the Stade de France on Thursday.
Both Poland and Germany will be coming into this intriguing tie having won their respective openers. Neither were at their very best against Northern Ireland and Ukraine, but they nonetheless managed to pick up all three points whilst keeping a clean sheet.
For Poland, they reached a major milestone during qualifiers when they beat Germany 2-0 on October 11, 2014. That was the first time they had beaten the reigning World Cup champions – ever. Goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Sebastian Mila were enough to end an 18-game winless run and also halt Germany’s 19-match unbeaten streak. Die Mannschaft, however, rebounded in expected fashion by defeating them 3-1 in the reverse fixture.
Of concern will be Wojciech Szczesny, who reportedly suffered an injury in the team’s 1-0 win over Norther Ireland. The Roma man will thus be closely monitored over the next days or so to determine his availability for this crunch clash. Should he fail to recover in time, then Lukasz Fabianski will be the man between the posts for the White Eagles as Adam Nawalka’s men hope to pick up at least one point from this game.
Meanwhile, Joachim Low opted to use Mario Gotze as a false no. 9, but with mixed success – as both goals came not from his attackers, but from a defender and a midfielder. Shkodran Mustafi and Bastian Schweinsteiger were the ones to give die Mannschaft a 2-0 win over Ukraine, but the scoreline does not reflect how tough Germany really had it in their opener.
Ukraine made it clear they were not going just to park the bus, nor were they going to roll over without a fight. Were it not for an impressive goal-line clearance by Jerome Boateng, they would have definitely equalized in the first half, which certainly would have altered the course of the next 45 minutes. In fact, until Schweinsteiger’s very late “insurance” goal – after coming on as a sub two minutes earlier – die Mannschaft fans were definitely uncomfortable and apprehensive.
This will truly be the biggest test for both Poland and Germany. For Poland, who scored 33 goals – the most in qualifiers – this will see if they really can match wits with a European giant. Some have viewed them as the strongest Polish side in recent years, whilst others feel that their prolific qualifying campaign is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. After all, they did have the fortune of facing Gibraltar twice, which is akin to taking on San Marino – it’s not a matter of winning, but how many goals one can put past the minnows.
Robert Lewandowski arguably will be under pressure on Thursday, after the Bayern Munich ace was frustrated and contained by a resolute Northern Ireland defense. He will, however, be coming up against several players that know him very well – Manuel Neuer, the aforementioned Boateng, and possibly Mats Hummels, should he recover from injury in time.
Meanwhile, his strike partner, Thomas Muller, will be hoping to open his account and overcome his own personal hoodoo at Euro tournaments. Curiously, despite having an impressive ten World Cup goals, the 26-year-old has yet to score – or assist – a goal at the Euro championship.
There will indeed be a die Roten element to this clash, as well as another interesting backstory. Lukas Podolski, at Euro 2008, grabbed a brace against Poland to down the nation of his birth, and it will be interesting to see if the 31-year-old plays any part on Thursday.
So, will Poland be able to pick up what would be their second win in 20 meetings with die Mannschaft? Or will Germany successfully hold off the White Eagles to seal a spot in the quarter-finals?
In the case of Bayern Munich teammates squaring off, will it be Neuer, Boateng, and Muller on the winning side? Or will Lewwandowski gain bragging rights in this one?