This is a match that is worthy of being a final and is definitely the biggest match of the Euro 2016. Hosts France and World Champions Germany will look to do a one up on the other at the Stade Velodrome on Thursday, July 7 in the second semi-final to book a place in the finals.
France have been one of the teams of the tournament making sure that the highly talented squad gives the best to the home supporters. Their best display came in the quarter-finals against surprise package Iceland ending their dream run in a 5-2 thrashing. The match was literally over in the first 20 minutes where goals from Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba put France in the driving seat. Iceland built their reputation in Euros as a stubborn side but any thoughts of a fightback were quelled before the half-time break by goals from Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann. Iceland did try to comeback in the second half but the deficit was far bigger than what they could accommodate eventually ending up in a comfortable win for the hosts. The win comes as a huge boost for Didier Deschamps who has seen his team struggle to control and close games so far in the tournament. Not that any of the teams have threatened their domination but France always lived on the edge before scrapping through – except in the last match.
This German side is a far cry from their usual domination sides struggling to impose throughout the tournament. In the quarter-finals against an injury-hit Italy. Joachim Loew decided to match the defensive formation of Italy and the Germans looked nowhere near convincing. They did take the lead through Mesut Ozil but Italy stormed back through a penalty after Jerome Boateng committed a silly handball. After that, it was all slow death as both sides were content to take it to penalties. What followed in the penalties was a surprise with Germans unusually tentative! The match witnessed one of the longest sequence of shots in the Euros with both sides struggling for control. Regarded as the best in penalty-taking business, Germany were guilty of giving Italy a toehold every time they were expected to pull away. Eventually sanity prevailed and Germany moved to the semis. The worries for Loew aren’t from just the previous encounter as the tournament witnessed an inconsistent and incoherent German side throughout. But what works in their favor is the fact that they know how to get things done.
Under normal circumstances this match should play to the advantage of Germany but with the form they are in and the injuries they carry, one would be tempted to put France as the favorites. But Germany is a dangerous side going deep in a tournament which means we have an exciting contest in the offing.
France have won four of their games in the tournament and eight of their last nine matches although they have been rarely tested by quality opposition.
Germany are unbeaten in their last six matches and have won two of the last three encounters. Numbers don’t lie as they struggled to impose their usual consistency.
Key players and team news
Defender Adil Rami and midfielder N’Golo Kante will be back from suspension and should take their regular spots for France. Payet continues to be their best creative outlet and will once again be the cornerstone of their attacks.
Mats Hummels is suspended for Germany while Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira are injured and out of the clash. It could mean a recall for the ‘false nine’ Mario Gotze.
France failed to score only once in the last nine encounters while keeping three clean sheets during this period. Germany kept five clean sheets in their last six matches while scoring at least one goal in eight of their last nine matches. The quality of French squad could mean difficulties for Germany in keeping a clean sheet. Back both sides to find the net.
The selection troubles for Germany could mean difficulties for Loew’s men in keeping France quiet. France will have an upper hand and could progress to the finals. Backing them to qualify for the next round will be a prudent bet – even if it is in extra time.
Both sides to score goals at odds of 2.1 with Betfred.