French sucker punch knocks out Germany
The world champions failed to make their domination count against resolute hosts…
If you looked at Germany Vs France from a distance there would be just one winner. The French had not beaten their neighbours in a competitive fixture since 1958. Add to that, this German side was on a simply stupendous run of form having lost just one out of 18 games in tournament football since their World Cup Semi-Final defeat to Spain at South Africa 2010.
Indeed, the world champions started last night’s clash in the same imperious fashion taking the game to their hosts. The seamless interchanging of positions and their fluid style of play had the France midfield and back four at sixes and sevens. As it turned out though, a combination of some heroic last-ditch defending, superb goalkeeping and erroneous finishing meant that the Germans failed to make their domination count. They were punished when Antoine Greizmann converted from the spot following Bastian Schweinsteiger’s needless handball in the box.
Antoine Greizmann's perfect penalty changed the dynamic of the game
The second half was a different story. The French now had something to hold and it was the opposition that had to make the running. Joachim Löw’s side continued to make the play but unlike in the first 45 France captain Hugo Lloris was rarely stretched as successive forays were rebuffed by a resolute French rearguard. By the time Joshua Kimmich’s error allowed Paul Pogba to set up Greizmann’s second it was clear this was not to be Germany’s night. In contrast, the hosts’ party was well underway as the vast majority of the 67,000-strong crowd at the Stade Velodrome danced their way through the night.
Greizmann was once again the man of the moment for France.
As hosts, the expectation has always been on Didier Deschamps’ men not just to make the Final, but also to win it. However, it must not be forgotten that this is not the strongest possible group the experienced tactician could have hoped for at these Championships. Shone of stellar names like Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette, Raphael Varane and Franck Ribery amongst others, questions were raised about the depth in quality within this squad. These have been decisively answered during the course of the tournament. Players like Barcelona bound Samuel Umtiti and Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko who were not part of the original mix, but came into the team later in the tournament, have brought a different dimension to Les Bleus and have held their place on merit.
Germany will look back on last night as an occasion on which they orchestrated their own downfall. But, France could care less. The hosts now have a meeting with Portugal for the coveted prize, which is a date with destiny for both teams.
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Report 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.
Published: Fri Jul 08, 2016 03:53 PM IST