The French have had a bumpy road to the last four and it remains to be seen whether they are ready for the challenge of Die Mannschaft …
France were the last team to win the European Championships as hosts way back in 1984, that side featuring the great Michel Platini. Indeed, Les Bleus’ last tournament success came in the Netherlands in 2000 on the back of their World Cup win at home in 1998. The class of 2016 may not be as illustrious as either of those teams, but that does not mean expectations off them are any less. The hosts’ road to the semis, although it may seem straightforward, has not been without its hiccups and it remains to be seen whether Didier Deschamps’ men are ready for the challenge of Germany, with the world champions, themselves are hitting peak form.
As you would expect between two traditional European rivals there is plenty of history between these two. The sides have previously met on 27 occasions with France leading 12 to 9 in wins. However, this will be only their fifth ckash at the Euros and tonight’s hosts are yet to win a significant encounter. The sides’ last meeting at a major competition ended in a 1-0 win for Germany in the Quarterfinals at Brazil 2014.
The Germans are a well-oiled machine from back to front and boss Joachim Löw showed tremendous adaptability in matching up to Italy’s 3-5-2 formation to negate it. Meanwhile, France have defensive frailties and are more inclined to attack. The goal-glut against Iceland has insured that most of their attacking players go into the game in a good mood. However, before that Les Bleus hadn’t scored a goal in the first half and given tonight’s opponents they would be best served to adopt a pragmatic approach mixing caution with aggression.
France are likely to welcome back Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante with both players available after missing the last game through suspension. However, German centre-back Mats Hummels will miss the crucial contest after picking up a booking against Italy. Forward Mario Gomez is out of the tournament through injury. Midfielders Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger are also major doubts with knocks.
Man To Watch
Antoine Griezmann has been arguably France’s best player at the Euros. With four goals so far the Atletico Madrid forward has been in the thick of the action and most of the hosts’ good work has passed though him. To rise to the German challenge Greizmann will have to elevate his performance to another level and his display could be pivotal to his team’s success in the clash.
France has seen its fair share of upheaval as a nation in the recent past, be it socio-economic issues or terror strikes, the country has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The French have craved for something to be proud of and the resounding success of Euro 2016 has provided them with just that. They would love nothing more than to add the icing on the cake by lifting the trophy on home soil. The Germans present the biggest obstacle to that dream.
Preview by Khel Now-Content Editor Mrunal Nakashe. A sports buff, he’s also a foreign policy enthusiast and keen North Korea watcher. Mrunal loves gaming, reading, traveling and is a self-confessed Football Manager addict. You can follow him on Twitter.