France vs. Germany Preview: European Powers Face Off in Quarterfinals
This match has all the ingredients to serve a titanic meal to soccer fans all around the world twice over. Whether it will be France avenging their 1982 loss in the World Cup semi-finals to the Germans on penalties or Die Mannschaft looking for a first World Cup title since West Germany won the title in 1990. One thing remains certain; you won’t want to miss this game.
Germany, playing in their ninth consecutive World Cup quarterfinals seem the bookies favorites, but in truth, they have failed to impress after their jaw-dropping 4-0 opening Group Stage win over Portugal. Having suffered a scare against Ghana, they were able to defeat USA to top the group before scrapping past Algeria in an extra-time thriller.
Mario Gotze’s lack of form should be cause for concern, leaving Low contemplating dropping the Bavarian in favor of Lukas Podolski who was recently ruled match fit. Alternatively, he could deploy Andre Schurrle after his match-winning performance, instead of using him as a substitute.
With Thomas Muller still impressing, there will be no room for Miroslav Klose, as he seeks to break the World Cup scoring record – unless called upon from the bench.
On the other side of the technical box, Didier Deschamps has his own conundrums to solve. France – despite having shown moments of brilliance – have been on a nervy path, often relying on the bursts from Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi to bail them out. However, they come into this match the fresher of the two sides, having played the last of their group stages before Germany finished its group campaign. France also concluded their round of 16 match in regular time. In nine of the last ten matches in the World Cup knockout stages where a side that has won in regular time faced off with a side that needed extra-time to advance, the fresher team won.
In defense Deschamps has a decision to make, either he starts off with Laurent Koscielny who was part of keeping a clean sheet against Nigeria – or opt for the physical presence of Mamadou Sakho, who has recently recovered from a thigh injury.
The midfield is likely to see Yohan Cabaye, Matuidi and Pogba remain intact, as Les Bleus hope to bully their opponents off the ball. France’s midfield has been a consistently strong presence in this tournament.
Up front, Olivier Giroud looks likely to drop to the bench after being ineffective during the game against Nigeria, with pacey Real Sociedad winger, Antoine Griezmann filling the void, alongside Karim Benzrma and Mathieu Valbuena. If things do not go well for Deschamps’ men early on, Giroud could offer a plan B for the team in the attacking department.
France – (4-2-1-3): Lloris; Debuchy, Varane, Koscienly, Evra; Matuidi, Cabaye; Pogba; Griezman, Benzema, Valbuena.
Germany – (4-3-3): Neuer; Lahm, Hummels, Mertesacker, Howedes; Schweinsteiger, Khedeira, Kroos; Özil, Müller, Schurrle.