Euro 2016: Joachim Loew can sniff knockout stages but Poland stand in Germany's way - Firstpost

Euro 2016: Joachim Loew can sniff knockout stages but Poland stand in Germany's way

Having discarded an 81-year wait to beat bitter rivals Germany in Euro 2016 qualifying, Poland believe they can repeat the trick against the world champions to take control of Group C.

The two sides meet in Paris on Thursday with Germany making an emotional return to the Stade de France just seven months after being caught up in last November's attacks in the French capital.

Joachim Loew ahead of the Germany-Poland tie. AFP

Joachim Loew ahead of the Germany-Poland tie. AFP

Die Mannschaft were forced to spend a night in the dressing rooms at France's national stadium when a series of jihadist attacks across Paris left 130 dead as they faced France in a friendly.

Loud explosions could be heard during the match as three suicide bombers unsuccessfully attempted to get into the stadium before blowing themselves up outside and killing one man.

The Poles have no intention of going easy on Joachim Loew's men having lived in the Germans' shadow until a 2-0 victory in Warsaw in the 19th meeting between the sides in November 2014.

Germany responded with a 3-1 win in Frankfurt later in the qualification campaign as both sides sealed their place in France.

However, Polish coach Adam Nawalka believes his side, led by superstar striker Robert Lewandowski, no longer fear their German counterparts.

"The first match was a historic win over Germany, it was very important for us in terms of building our side. It was an important step in our progression to play better and better," said Nawalka.

Barriers Gone

"I believed it would happen sooner or later, we have very good players who play for some of the best teams in Europe and I think it was just a matter of time.

"We respect the opponent, but no one is afraid. It was the case in Warsaw and Frankfurt and it will be the same tomorrow.

"We believe in our skills, but we are playing against one of the best teams in the world."

Poland winger, Jakub Błaszczykowski, who has spent the majority of his career in Germany with Borussia Dortmund, believes the win in Warsaw removed an important physicological barrier for the Poles.

"Psychologically that was very important and it has given us a lot of confidence," he said.

"It was an important factor, which has helped us play better in the future, it has helped our team spirit and you can see that in the way that we have played since.

"That moment in Warsaw was one of the most important moments in qualifying and the development of the team."

However, Germany midfielder Sami Khedira claimed that historic defeat will have no impact on Loew's men.

"I think that was right after the World Cup, so we had a couple of games where we did not play too well, but we won the second game against Poland," said Khedira.

"They can be very dangerous, we have analysed them quite well, we'll be well-prepared, but that has nothing to do with the results from the past."

Both sides have injury concerns. Nawalka confirmed Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will miss the match due to a thigh injury suffered in their opening 1-0 win over Northern Ireland.

Loew, meanwhile, insisted he will take no risks if Mats Hummels is not fit enough to make his return after a month out as his stand-in Shkodran Mustafi scored as they opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Ukraine.

Victory for either side will almost certainly seal their place in the knockout stage with 16 of the 24 competing teams going through.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neil wants more grit from his side for what he called a "Cup final" against Ukraine looking to stay in the race to reach the last 16.

Northern Ireland's 12-match unbeaten run ended with defeat to Poland in their European championship debut.

"We must bring the ugly side to our game tomorrow night," said O'Neil.

"We have to treat this like a Cup final, because we know the significance of the three points."

Northern Ireland's fans also plan to pay tribute to supporter Darren Rodgers, 24, who died in Nice on Monday after falling from a restaurant balcony with a round of applause in the 24th-minute in Lyon.


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