Call this one the match that refused to believe the hype. Germany and Poland cancel one another out in a less than scintillating 0-0 draw, where the two defenses came up trumps. The result was a yawner.
Germany coach Jogi Löw made one change to the starting eleven that beat Ukraine, replacing Shkodran Mustafi with convalescent Mats Hummels at the back. The Poles were forced to go with back-up keeper Lukasz Fabianski after an injury to Wojciech Szczesny.
As expected, the Germans took the attacking role. In minute three, Julian Draxler found Mario Götze in space with a cross, but the Bayern player couldn’t keep his header down. What followed were 42 minutes of tedium.
If Germany had ideas other than lobbing balls in Götze’s general direction, they didn’t show them. The Germans had almost 70 percent of possession but managed only eight shots on goal, none of them dangerous. For their part, the Poles seemed content with a draw, and the teams headed for the changing rooms with the score nil-nil.
Poland almost ripped the games from the doldrums thirty seconds after the restart, but Arkadiusz Milik failed to get to a cross that had both Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer beaten. At the other end, Götze squandered a good look, firing the ball straight at Fabianski.
In the quarter of an hour that followed, Poland had the better chances, but Hummels and Boateng were world class. Milik had another look in front of the German goal, but whiffed, while a short time later Mesut Özil couldn’t get his equally open shot on target either.
The introduction of Mario Gomez and André Schürrle for the final phase of the match did little to alter Germany’s fortunes. Nor could Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski make an impact for Poland despite playing all 90 minutes. As a result, Euro 2016 now has its first scoreless draw.
“We didn’t win a single one-on-one up front,” a visibly disgruntled Boateng growled after the match. “We can be happy the match ended 0-0. We have to play better, or we’re not going to win anything.”
Lewandowski was in a much better mood.
“I think we had too much respect for Germany in the first half,” the Polish captain said. “In the second half we pushed forward and started creating chances.”
Group C remains wide open, with Germany ahead of Poland on goal difference. The final matches next Tuesday (Ukraine-Poland, Northern Ireland-Germany) will determine who wins the group and who progresses. Ukraine will be going home after the group stage.