Thursday night saw the first goalless draw at this summer’s EURO 2016, as Group C contenders Germany and Poland played out an underwhelming 0-0 draw inside Paris’ Stade de France.
A share of the spoils leaves both countries joint-top of their respective group; ahead of Northern Ireland and Ukraine, but neither side took the necessary risks to snatch all three points on the night – although the White and Reds’ Arkadiusz Milik spurned several golden opportunities to break the deadlock and punish the pre-m.
Germany boss Joachim Low made one change from the starting eleven that fought off Ukraine last time out, with fully fit centre-half Mats Hummels coming in for Shkodran Mustafi – who netted in Sunday’s 2-0 victory.
Meanwhile Poland boss Adam Nawalka opted for two changes – with Lukas Fabianski replacing the injured Wojciech Szczesny (thigh) in goal, plus Kamil Grosicki coming in for Bartosz Kapustka in midfield.
But it was the reigning world champions who dominated the first-half in Paris, with Mario Gotze heading over Julian Draxler’s beautiful delivery from the left-flank, before Toni Kroos slid his own effort wide of the mark from Thomas Muller’s through ball inside the opening 16 minutes.
The entire first period was dragged out with few and far goalscoring chances for the crowd to savour, with neither side ready to take a risk and go all out for the three points on offer.
The closest the ball came to hitting the back of the net was Gotze’s first time shot that cannoned back off the post, but Muller was ruled offside during the build-up.
Despite a drab opening half in the French capital; neither national team coach opted for a change of personnel at the interval, but thankfully the second-half started in lively fashion.
Just seconds after the restart; the ball broke kindly for Poland’s Grosicki down the right, before the midfielder crossed brilliantly for an onrushing Milik, who somehow couldn’t bundle the ball home from a few yards out.
Approaching the hour-mark; Poland were awarded a dangerous free-kick 26 metres from goal.
The prolific Robert Lewandowski stood over the ball and looked favourite to have a shot at goal. But instead; the Bayern Munich striker cleverly laid it off to Milik, whose resulting drive rocketed just wide of Manuel Neuer’s net.
Another ten minutes rolled on, but it was the same old story, Milik again gifted the opportunity to open the scoring –but it wasn’t taken.
Grosicki provided the low cross into the danger area, but the Ajax forward fluffed his lines after getting his feet in a tangle at the decisive moment.
Then immediately at the opposite end of the pitch, the 2014 World Cup winners hit on the counterattack, before teeing up Mesut Ozil on the edge of the penalty area, only to see the Arsenal ace’s shot well tipped over by shot stopper Fabianski.
Thursday’s goalless stalemate is the first time the Germans have failed to find the back of the net in a European Championship finals fixture since the EURO 2008 final against Spain.
The result now means that the 2014 World Cup winners are unbeaten in their last five meetings with the White and Reds at major tournament finals, keeping clean sheets in all five clashes.
Man of the Match: Mats Hummels (Germany)
Not many outstanding candidates for this accolade, but the German centre-half just pips a few other nominees to this award based on his defensive work in Paris.
The 27-year-old; who has already agreed a summer switch to Bayern Munich from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund, managed to keep future teammate and Poland’s biggest threat, Lewandowski, completely quiet in the Stade de France.
Hummels; who replaced Mustafi in the starting eleven, proved his worth with a resolute defensive performance for manager Low, helping his side seal a fifth consecutive clean sheet against the Poles.
One particular standout moment was the centre-half’s brilliant recovery early in the second-half to deny the lively Milik through on goal, chasing back rapidly to deny the Ajax striker at sight of goal and what could have eventually proved to be a match winner.
Group C leaders Germany take on Northern Ireland on Tuesday back in Paris, needing just a draw to guarantee themselves a passage into the last-16.
Meanwhile second-placed Poland go head-to-head with rock-bottom Ukraine, who have lost both of their opening EURO 2016 matches, in Marseille.