Euro 2016

Germany to confront old fears

Germany know all about Poland captain Robert Lewandowski's scoring prowess, with the striker plundering 42 goals for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last season. However, Bayern and German defender Jerome Boateng said the world champions will not overl
Germany know all about Poland captain Robert Lewandowski's scoring prowess, with the striker plundering 42 goals for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last season. However, Bayern and German defender Jerome Boateng said the world champions will not overly agonise over his club team-mate.PHOTO: REUTERS

World champions return to site of terror attacks to face their conquerors in qualifying

GROUP C

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PARIS • Old rivalries and fresh memories face Germany when they return to the Stade de France today to face familiar foes Poland in a crucial Euro 2016 clash just seven months after being caught up in last November's terror attacks in Paris.

The German team were forced to spend a traumatic night in the dressing rooms at France's national stadium when a series of jihadist attacks across Paris left 130 dead on a night they faced the French in a friendly.

Defender Jerome Boateng, who was in the world champions' team that night, caused a stir when he announced his wife and five-year-old twins would not be travelling to France to watch him play in Euro 2016 because he believed "the risk is simply too big".

However, he insists Germany will not be spooked by their return to Paris as they look to take a firm grip of Group C.

"It's not a topic for us, we feel safe and are concentrating on sporting matters," said the defender. "We want to prepare well and that is our goal at the moment, we're not worried about the rest."

Of more immediate concern to Joachim Low's men will be the sight of Boateng's Bayern Munich team-mate Robert Lewandowski in a Poland side high on confidence after their first game at a European Championship Finals - a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland on Sunday.

The Pole scored 42 goals as Bayern romped to a fourth consecutive Bundesliga title this season.

The former Borussia Dortmund forward was also the top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying with 13 goals and played a vital role as Poland beat Germany for the first and only time 2-0 in Nov 2014 in Warsaw on their road to France.

"Lewandowski is a top striker, but we have to be careful, they have other good forwards too," said Boateng, stressing that his side cannot obsess over the Bayern striker if they are to build on their opening 2-0 win over Ukraine.

The Poland captain did not score in their opening win, with 22-year-old forward Arkadiusz Milik, who also struck six times in the qualifying campaign, grabbing their winner against Northern Ireland.

"They have made a big leap in the past few years, many players play abroad and more youngsters are coming up," said Germany's Polish-born forward Lukas Podolski, who is set to face the country of his birth for a sixth time for his 128th cap. "They are the most dangerous opponents in our group. They have the quality to go beyond the round of 16."

Germany coach Low could have central defender Mats Hummels back fit, which would mean Shkodran Mustafi, who scored their opening goal against Ukraine, could return to the bench.

The World-Cup winning coach may also decide to bring in Mario Gomez, in place of attacking midfielder Mario Gotze, who looked uncomfortable in the lone striker's role against the Ukrainians.

Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny picked up a thigh injury in the opening game but is expected to be fit to play.

The Germans may have lost to Poland in the qualifiers but for Lewandowski, they remain the team to beat.

"Germany are in my opinion the favourites for the whole tournament," he said. "We know how strong they are but anything can happen.

"We have to remain calm and self-confident, just like against Ireland. No fear, no stress and, if we get a chance, we can make it. But we should not forget to enjoy ourselves."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'GERMANY TO CONFRONT OLD FEARS'. Print Edition | Subscribe