Euro 2016: Germany focus on Poland for emotional Paris return

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Paris, June 15: Old rivalries and fresh memories face Germany when they return to the Stade de France in Paris 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.

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Die Mannschaft 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.

Euro 2016: Germany focus on Poland for emotional Paris return

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.

German 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 because he believed "the risk is simply too big."

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However, Boateng 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 Bayern Munich 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 Loew's men will be the sight of Boateng's Bayern teammate Robert Lewandowski in a Poland side high in confidence after winning their first ever game at a European Championship finals 1-0 over Northern Ireland on Sunday.

Lewandowski scored 42 goals as Bayern romped to a fourth consecutive Bundesliga title this season. The former Borussia Dortmund forward also top scored 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 November 2014 in Warsaw on their road to France.

"Lewandowski is a top striker," Boateng said. "At the club, we play together, but we had often played against each other before and we'll certainly come up against each other this time as well."

Boateng, though, was keen to stress that Germany can't obsess over Lewandowski if they are to build on their opening 2-0 win over Ukraine with Ajax's Arkadiusz Milik, who scored the winner against Northern Ireland, also a clear threat.

"It's important that we get a win in the second game, we know Poland well and it won't be easy, but with our playing qualities, I am positive that we can decide the game for ourselves.

"Of course, we have to be careful, they have good people in attack, not just Lewandowski."

Germany have a stunning record against their neighbours, winning 13 of their 20 previous meetings, and bouncing back from defeat in Warsaw to win their last clash 3-1 in September.

The four-time world champions won the only previous European Championship finals match between the two 2-0 in 2008 when Polish-born Lukas Podolski scored twice. Podolski could face the country of his birth for a sixth time on his 128th cap, but is hoping both sides make it into the last 16.

"It's a special game for me, anyone who knows my story knows that. I have a lot of friends, relatives and family who live there," said the Galatasaray forward.

"Personally, I hope we win the group and Poland finish second. "Poland have taken a big step forward (in recent years) and are a dangerous opponent. They have developed well and have a lot of young talent, many of whom also play abroad.

"They will find it hard against us, but they have the quality to reach the last 16."

AFP

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