Germany and Poland will go into the final set of group matches locked together at the top of Group C after playing out the first goalless draw of UEFA EURO 2016.
For much of the evening all the key ingredients were there and, amid a frenetic atmosphere, it was simmering along nicely; that finishing touch was always just lacking. There was always a sense that there could be a goal at either end – even if both defences evidently didn't see it that way.
The best two chances fell to Poland and Arkadiusz Milik. The first came in the opening seconds of the second period when Kamil Grosicki span and delivered a wonderful cross but the Ajax man, slightly unsighted, could not get enough on his header.
Grosicki was again the provider midway through the half when he found Milik alone on the penalty spot but the No7 fluffed his lines once more. How strike partner Robert Lewandowski would have loved such an opening. Instead his "hunger for goals" (five Poland games now) was unsatisfied against the pace and physicality of Bayern team-mates Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels.
Germany's fluid five-man forward line did not enjoy any more luck at the other end: they rarely found a way past holding midfield Grzegorz Krychowiak, let alone the defence and goalkeeper. Łukasz Fabiański was called on to keep out second-half efforts from Mesut Özil and Mario Götze, but little besides.
Man of the match: Jérôme Boateng (Germany)
Helping to shackle Lewandowski, Boateng compiled a litany of defensive interventions comprising three interceptions, two tackles, two clearances, one block, one blocked cross and one aerial duel won as Germany posted a second successive clean sheet. "It's always hard to face 'Lewi' – he kept us busy, Milik too, but we coped," he said.
Hummels underlines his case
It was a difficult call from Joachim Löw to restore fit-again Hummels to the Germany side at the expense of Shkodran Mustafi, who scored and contributed to a clean sheet in the opening game. Hummels vindicated the decision in the aesthetic if formidable style he has made his own. Lewandowski will be glad they are on the same team at Bayern next season.
Poland's chief protector
Lewandowski's goals means he is a fixture on the back pages in Poland, but Krychowiak's contribution to the cause cannot be underestimated. Disciplined and determined, the No10 provides a steely shield in front of the back four and his distribution is uncomplicatedly effective. It is no coincidence Poland have lost only one of the last 19 matches he has started.
Germany have a fine major tournament record under Löw, but for some reason they always struggle in their second outings – it is one win in five now. It is a strange phenomenon. Throughout the build-up to this fixture Löw emphasised the importance of having "small, nimble players up front" and while he put his money where his mouth is there was scant reward.
Steffen Potter, Germany (@UEFAcomSteffenP)
When we reporters spoke about this contest beforehand, we were sure there'd be goals. No one expected a goalless draw. It was your classical active versus reactive match, but it was the reactive Polish players who had the best opportunity. Both coaches will like the fact their teams did not concede, but Germany have to find better ways of opening up such deep-sitting defences. They will face a very similar task in their last group outing against Northern Ireland.
Piotr Koźmiński, Poland (@UEFAcomPiotrK)
A good performance to reassure Polish fans that this side really could be dark horses in France. They did not allow the world champions a shot on target until the 46th minute and underlined their growing strength – it is not all about Lewandowski's goals. A place in the last 16 is all but assured now, and Adam Nawałka's men look like they have an appetite for more.
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