Germany vs Poland has been the most anticipated fixture of Group C. A win for either will mean that the team qualifies into the Round of 16 following their respective wins in the opening round of matches. On paper, Group C looks straightforward for Germany but the presence of neighbours and frequent foes Poland is likely to make things interesting.
Arkadiusz Milik grabbed the only goal of the game against a surprisingly strong Northern Ireland team for the Polish. Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny suffered an injury in the game and is a early doubt for Thursday’s match. Lukasz Fabianski would be a more than capable replacement should Szczesny not recover in time.
Neuer is one of the best keepers in the world, while the likes of Boateng and Hummels can be counted on provide a solid defence. Their midfield is packed with talented players like Ozil, Schurrle and Gotze, and most of their squad members would walk into other teams. The injured Marco Reus is a huge miss. They are a little light in the number 9 department and the onus will be Muller to provide the goals.
• Poland are chasing their first passage into the second round at a European Championship finals having finished bottom of their group at both Euro 2008 and four years ago when they co-hosted Euro 2012.
• They have a miserable record of three draws and three defeats, with just three goals scored in their six matches.
• Poland claimed an historic first win over neighbours Germany at the 19th attempt when they stunned the world champions with a 2-0 win in Warsaw in October 2014 with goals by Arkadiusz Milik and Sebastian Mila in a Euro 2016 qualifier.
• The Germans gained revenge in Frankfurt last September with a 3-1 win. But this match can prove to be a huge turning point.
Poland – Robert Lewandowski
Northern Ireland kept Poland’s star striker quiet but that just created more space for Milik. Poland will go with a pair, the irrepressible Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich, scorer of 44 goals in 49 appearances last season, and Ajax’s Arkadiusz Milik, who hit 24 goals in last season’s Eredivisie. They will be well serviced from the flanks with wingers Kamil Grosicki of Rennes and Jakub Blaszczykowski of Borussia Dortmund. Germany will have to find a way to neutralise both Lewandowski and Milik if they are to pose a serious threat to their neighbours.
Germany – Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos impressed everybody in Germany’s opening game and put up a brilliant performance. The Real Madrid midfielder dictated play all over the pitch, passed perfectly short and long, and was a constant goal threat. Kroos was at the heart of much of their attacking threat and played in a deeper, central role, wary of protecting an inexperienced backline as well as unlocking defences when going forward.
Although Germany looked a bit unconvincing against Ukraine, the match is still likely to end up in a 3-2 victory for Germany. It’ll be a high-scoring game most probably.