It feels like the Euro 2016 started only a short while back, and yet, we are at the face of the semi-finals already! The match is expected to be an epic clash as the home team takes on the world champions Germany.
France shocked fans and critics alike with their stellar performance against the dark-horse team Iceland. Winning 5-2, they have certainly sent out a strong message to Germany. And backed by the passionate fans, France might just snatch a victory from Germany.
The Germans, on the other hand, played a remarkable tactical game against Italy and Low’s impeccable strategising almost delivered them a sure-shot victory, until a penalty was suffered at Boateng’s expense where he raised his arms up and hit the ball. This led to a nail-bitingly intense penalty shootout, where the better team Germany prevailed ultimately. However, they will have to ensure that none of the mistakes happen in a match as crucial as a semi-final against the home side.
Its good news for the hosts as both Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante are expected to be back, after the suspended duo sat out of the 5-2 victory over Iceland on Sunday. They have served their bans, while Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud – who were one booking from a ban – were sacrificed early against Iceland to ensure they can feature in the semi.
Germany suffered major blows as they will be without Mats Hummels for their clash against France after a booking against Italy. Mario Gomez is out of the tournament with injury, while both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are major doubts. This will probably be the biggest concern for Germany at this point, as most of their prized players are doubtful.
Did you know?
• Germany have won 14 of their last 18 games at major tournaments, drawing three and losing only once (1-2 v Italy in the EURO 2012 semi-finals).
• Germany have kept the most clean sheets at EURO 2016 (4 in 5 games). The only goal they’ve conceded was a penalty against Italy.
• Germany’s possession in the EURO 2016 group stages averaged 72%. It has dropped to 61% in the knockout phase.
• This will be the fifth encounter between Germany and France at a major finals tournament, their first in the European Championships. France won the first meeting (6-3 in 1958) whilst Germany came out on top in the next three (on penalties in 1982, 2-0 in 1986, 1-0 in 2014).
• Alain Giresse is the last French player to score against Germany at a major finals tournament; coming in the 1982 World Cup semi-final.
• France have never kept a clean sheet in their four meetings with Germany at major finals tournaments.
• France and Germany’s last head-to-head dates back to 13 November 2015. Didier Deschamp’s men won 2-0 in a friendly at the Stade de France.
France – Antoine Griezmann
A player who struggled greatly to play football – as he was apparently “too short” at 5.9ft – has turned into an amazing finisher and has also set up so many assists for his team-mates Pogba and Payet. He scored and set up two more goals as France won against Iceland 5-2.
He is really good in the air, using his slight frame to his advantage, as that gives him more power and accuracy, since he’s able to control his weight better. Two of his four goals at this tournament have been headers. Griezmann’s agile awareness and pace make him extremely difficult to mark and he seems to possess a gift of finding space at the right time.
Against a German side that will be missing a bunch of its top players, Griezmann can wreak havoc if he manages to break through the defence and Low will have to focus on finding ways to mark him tightly.
Germany – Mesut Ozil
To be very honest, the Germany vs Italy game was as good as a game of chess where both coaches tried to outsmart each other with their tactical capabilities. Joachim Low switched to a 3-5-2 formation against Italy, with Ozil lining up in a free role behind Thomas Muller and the out-and-out striker Gomez.
Ozil turned out to be a danger as he effortlessly carried the ball forward – past the strong Italian defence – and dribbling at every opportunity and attempting tricks and disguised passes. In fact, after scoring the opening goal, he produced an excellent chipped pass to set up Gomez for a clear chance, which was unfortunately missed by him.
Against France, Ozil’s quick-thinking dribbling and passing skills will most definitely be put to test.
With France having the support of an intensely passionate home crowd and a strong team, they might just be able to win against the world champions. However, the world champions are not to be taken lightly, as they have won in similar situations earlier, where they missed a few of their key players. Ultimately, the match is most likely to end in a 2-1 victory for Germany over France.