The world champions, Germany, entered Euro 2016 as one of the favourites, just as they have been for the last 10 years in all major tournaments. The tag is justified considering that they’ve entered the semi finals in each of their previous 6 competitions. France on the other hand have never really hit the heights of the Zidane era. This is the first time they have reached the semi final stage after winning the competition back in 2000. Both teams will strongly believe that the winner of this match will head into the finals with an upper hand over the winner of the other semi-final, irrespective of the result in that.
Germany have experienced a small slump in form after their victorious world cup campaign at Brazil two years back. The retirement of Lahm and Klose played its part. But they put aside all of that and have put up some clinical performances in France. Neuer and co have been in great form with 4 clean sheets in their last 5 matches. Goals have been hard to come by though with the ever reliable Muller completely out of sorts in front of goal. They have been unplayable at times, especially in the 3-0 win over Slovakia and even managed the thwart the Conte’s tactics in the thrilling win vs Italy. Low’s men will be confident of beating the host at a semi final for the 2nd time in 2 years.
France didn’t play the qualifiers as they automatically qualified as the host nation. In that time, Deschamps slowly built a side that is capable of winning a major tournament at home for the second time. Pogba and Griezmann are match winners and in Payet, they have one of the top midfielders in Europe last season. It hasn’t been straightforward for them. Giroud’s first goal in the quarterfinal was the first time France scored in the first half of this competition. They’ve had to rely on late winners and moments of individual brilliance, but they turned up in style vs Iceland (Read more on how ‘France peaked at the right time’). The signs look good for the French as they prepare for their toughest test, yet.
Suspensions and Absentees:
Germany – Mats Hummels will miss the game through suspension while Mario Gomez has been ruled out with an hamstring injury. Khedira and Schweinsteiger are also major doubts for the match. Emre Can is likely to start the game in their absence.
France – Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante will return from their suspensions as Didier Deschamps looks to name a strong starting lineup for the clash.
Mesut Ozil vs N’Golo Kante –
With Gomez injured and Muller firing blanks, much of the German attack will depend on how well Ozil plays. The midfielder has been in good form this tournament and even scored in the quarterfinal vs Italy. Kante, who has come on the back of a phenomenal league campaign, has already played against Ozil in the league last season and he will look to contain the mercurial German.
Antoine Griezmann vs Jerome Boateng –
These two players locked horns in the Champions league semis last season with the Atletico forward coming out on top. This time there’s a lot more at stake. Griezmann is the tournament’s leading goal scorer with 4 goals. Boateng’s handball vs Italy in the buildup to their equaliser is the only blemish in an otherwise superb campaign for the German. Without Hummels as his partner, Boateng will have to use his experience to lead the line against this exciting French forward.
The top scoring team vs the best defensive unit. It is the closest we can get to the scenario of ‘when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object’. France have finally shown up while the Germans continue to display their ruthless efficiency. The Germans played an exhausting 120 minutes plus penalties vs the Italians while the French team are all well rested and free from suspensions. This might eventually be the difference between the two sides.
France 2-0 Germany. Griezmann to be amongst the goals.
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