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Germany versus Poland

Lewandowski on the other side for 90 minutes

It certainly feels funny when a team-mate suddenly becomes an opponent. Of course, Jérôme Boateng can be involved in a tussle with Robert Lewandowski during FC Bayern training sessions - but not at any cost. Their friendship will be suspended for 90 minutes on Thursday night (21.00 CET). Crucial points are at stake in the race for a berth in the last sixteen at the Euros. On one side are Lewandowski’s Poland. And, on the other side, Germany with Boateng, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Mario Götze and Joshua Kimmich.

“We both want to do our best for our countries,” said Boateng, “but it will be a fair encounter.” Lewandowski took the same view when caught up with him at the Poland team hotel on the Atlantic coast. “During the season you train with them every day and now you have to play against them. But that’s OK for 90 minutes. I hope both teams get through the group stage and then meet in the final.”

That’s a long way off as the tournament has only just started. Both Poland and Germany won their first games so they can be relaxed going into Thursday’s match in Paris. The winner will be almost certain of making the knockout rounds and the losers will still be in with a good chance. “We know Germany are the favourites - not just in our group but also for the whole tournament. But with a bit of luck we can get a result. We’ve already seen Germany can have problems against Poland,” observed Lewandowski.

No contact before the game

Germany left Warsaw defeated in the Euro 2016 qualifiers. That mustn’t happen again, the FCB contingent know. “It’s important for us to win the second match,” declared Boateng, “they’re a good side but if we play our game then I’m very positive about the outcome.” The defensive stalwart emphasised not just focusing on the “top striker” Lewandowski. “They have a lot of other good attacking players.” That includes the former FC Augsburg striker Arkadiusz Milik who made the difference in the group match against Northern Ireland.

There will be no contact between Lewandowski and his FCB team-mates before the showdown in Paris. “We did talk about it in Munich. Now I’m fully focused on my team,” admitted the Polish superstar who is hoping for an “interesting game. It would be good if we can get a result. One or three points - either would be brilliant.” Boateng and Co might have a word or two to say about that.