Victorious Poles keep feet on ground with Germans ahead
NICE, France (Reuters) – Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak urged his team mates not to get carried away by their first ever victory at a European championship finals against Northern Ireland at Euro 2016 on Sunday.
The 1-0 victory in Group C was the Poles’ first win in seven games at the finals. It put the country in a strong position to reach the knockout stages as they prepare for a tough clash with world champions Germany in Paris on Thursday.
But Krychowiak said: “We understood that the first match is very difficult, we were prepared for that. The next matches will show that we can be even better and go further.
“We can do a lot, but we shouldn’t be overly optimistic, having only won the first match. We should take it calmly with a cold-headed approach. We need to run our socks off, but I’m not hiding the fact that we want to win it.”
Northern Ireland were making their first appearance at a major tournament for 30 years. Coach Michael O’Neill said his team struggled to match Poland’s physical approach.
“I have to give great credit to the players for staying in the game. At times early on we were almost overpowered by their physical strength,” he said.
“We tried to get something out of it, but didn’t manage to create anything of significance. In all honesty, the best team won on the day. There’s a sense of disappointment that we didn’t do as much with the ball as we could have done.”
Poland coach Adam Nawalka added: “Northern Ireland are known for their physical football so we had to adjust and offer the same in order to demonstrate our skills. I want to praise all of the players. They put a lot into this match and we deservedly won.”
Northern Ireland now take on Ukraine in Lyon on Thursday where they need a better result to have any hope of reaching the knockout stages.
“Maybe we need to show a bit more bravery on the ball. We need to show more belief on the pitch,” captain Steven Davis said. “We can learn from today. It was a step up in quality.
“They’re a good side and they deserved to win but we can do better and we need to turn our attentions to how we improve for the next game.”
(Writing by Adrian Warner; Editing by Toby Davis)