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Poland holds toothless Germany
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 06 - 2016

Germany bolstered its back line with the return of central defender Mats Hummels Thursday but lacked penetration at the other end of the field as it was held to a 0-0 draw by Poland at Euro 2016.
It came out zipping the ball around early on, poking and prodding at the Poles but, with focal point Mario Goetze consistently dropping off, they lacked conviction in the final third and the Polish defense looked more than comfortable.
The world champion failed to pierce a disciplined Poland rearguard, seeing most of its attacks break down on the edge of the penalty box.
Coach Joachim Loew turned to Hummels, back after sustaining a thigh muscle injury last month, to stabilize the defense after a shaky first half against Ukraine in its opening Group C win last week.
Hummels, taking the place of Shkodran Mustafi, delivered a solid performance, renewing his 2014 World Cup-winning partnership with Jerome Boateng and giving Poland little space up front.
With Benedikt Hoewedes and Jonas Hector as full backs, Germany also managed to avoid being caught on the break by the speedy Kamil Griscki and captain Robert Lewandowski.
Loew had warned of counter attacks led by Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik but the pair were restricted in terms of scoring chances.
While Germany's defensive operation will no doubt boost confidence going into its final group game against Northern Ireland next week, it struggled in attack with neither Mario Goetze nor Mario Gomez able to land a knockout blow.
Goetze received a second consecutive start despite a below-par performance in the opening game and again failed to deliver, the attacking midfielder never settling in the role of striker.
He and Julian Draxler were kept quiet by Michal Pazdan, Lukasz Piszczek and the rest of Poland's hard-working defenders.
Goetze, who grabbed the winner in the 2014 World Cup final, may now make way for Andre Schuerrle against the Irish.
"We could not get chances in the last third of the pitch," said Loew. "We could not combine and play our football. I must say that both teams defended really well."
Loew brought on substitute Gomez, his only out-and-out striker, in the 72nd minute but the Turkish league's top scorer could make little headway.
"We did not win one-on-ones. We did not have movement and we should be happy with the draw," man-of-the-match Boateng said. "We were good defensively, but in attack there was a lot missing. We have to be more aggressive."
The result means the pair, who won their opening games, need a point in their final Group C matches against Ukraine and Northern Ireland respectively Tuesday to guarantee reaching the last 16.
Ukraine, which has yet to get a point, cannot progress and will finish bottom of the section. — Agencies


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