Low Lambasts misfiring attack

Coach criticises toothless Germans, puts close games down to defensive smaller teams

PARIS • Germany coach Joachim Low insists that the shock results and fine performances from the minnows at Euro 2016 are no surprise as they are playing the "tournament of their lives".

Nevertheless, he castigated his flat-footed attackers after they were held 0-0 by Poland in their Group C clash on Thursday.

Both sides remain on course to reach the last 16 with four points from their opening two games, but Low made his disappointment clear on his side's sputtering strike force.

"In the attack today, we could not create too many chances. The whole of our game in the last third wasn't fast enough," he said. "There were nine or 10 Polish players behind the ball because we didn't play the ball quickly enough."

Despite the stalemate, Low defended his decision to start the misfiring Mario Gotze over his other striking option, Mario Gomez.

"Both sides were very strong defensively," he added. "High balls in the penalty area, that is what the Polish want.

"That is why for me, the strategy was clear to put Gotze in from the start to play the ball on the ground, but today we couldn't impose our game style."

An expanded 24-team format has allowed a host of minnows a chance to shine, with Poland, Wales, Slovakia and Northern Ireland all registering their first European Championship wins in France.

Even when the favourites have emerged victorious, it has often been thanks to late strikes, as seen by France's two late Group A wins and England's last-gasp win over Wales on Thursday.

"The results are very close because for the teams that participate for the first time, it is the tournament of their lives," said Low.

"They do what they are good at, they defend and wait for chances on the counter-attack and that is what we expected before the tournament, that the teams will fight for every thing."

Defences were firmly on top at the Stade de France on an emotional return for Low's men, just seven months after they were caught up in a night of terror in the French capital when 130 people were killed in a string of terror attacks.

Centre-back Jerome Boateng, who caused a stir by announcing that his wife and five-year-old twins would not travel to watch him, had a flawless display and was named Man of the Match.

When asked how he kept Poland's star striker Robert Lewandowski quiet throughout the match, he said: "It's always hard to play against him. He kept us occupied all night, but we defended well as a team, starting with the attack and that made it easier for me."

The final whistle was met with glee by the Poles, who had beaten their neighbours only once in 21 meetings in their history.

Lewandowski admitted the Poles were pleased to be a step closer to reaching the Euro knockout stages for the first time.

"We're happy with the point," he said. "It's a pity that we didn't get the goal, but that's football and it's not a bad result for us."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'Low lambasts misfiring attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe