Pressure also on France, says Germany midfielder Kroos


Marseille (AFP) – Germany midfielder Toni Kroos said the pressure is also on hosts France when they meet in a mouthwatering Euro 2016 semi-final clash on Thursday that will set up a July 10 final with Portugal.

Kroos was an integral part of the Germany team that ousted France from the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup as Die Mannschaft romped to glory at the Maracana in Rio De Janeiro.

And he believes the pressure of France playing as tournament hosts could go against Didier Deschamps’ men as they bid to end a 58-year hoodoo against the Germans in major finals.

For Real Madrid midfielder Kroos playing against Didier Deschamps’ men will be “special”.

But he says the Germans, who have not suffered defeat to France in a major finals since a 6-3 mauling at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, have no fear.

“I wouldn’t say fear is the word,” Kroos said in Marseille when asked his feelings on Les Bleus.

“We have a lot of respect for the France team as they’ve progressed during the tournament. Obviously playing against the hosts is special. But we’re afraid of nothing.

“Until now I feel like our fans have been in the majority in the stadiums, I expect tomorrow it will be a bit less so.

“But we have good memories of this kind of atmosphere. We know we’re facing a quality side and they’ll be pumped up, but I’m sure they will also feel some pressure.

“It’s up to us to capitalise.”

– ‘Top form’ –

France, 5-2 winners over England’s conquerors Iceland in the quarters, and Germany have only met three times since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

All three of Germany’s victories came at the World Cup, in 1982, 1986 and 2014.

Loew’s men came through a tough test by Italy in the quarter-finals, finally overcoming the Azzurri 6-5 in a thrilling 18-kick penalty shootout.

Now a Stade de France final on Sunday with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal awaits, after their 2-0 semi-final defeat of Wales in Lyon. 

The mercury hit 35 degrees Celsius in Marseille on Wednesday and is set to rise further on Thursday.

But Kroos has dismissed the finer details that could affect the players, including which team has enjoyed more rest.

For the 26-year-old German, form and hunger on the day will be decisive.

“I’m used to the heat, I play in Spain and I prefer that to the rain, for example,” said Kroos.

“It won’t cause us any problems.

“I’m sure both sides will be on top form. In any case, if it goes awry for us we won’t be using the (efforts spent in the) Italy game as an excuse.”

Germany began the tournament as co-favourites and after five matches are now favourites to add the European Championship title to their World Cup crown.

If successful, they would emulate Spain — who won Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup — and France, who won Euro 2000 two years after being crowned World Cup champions.

Kroos added: “There’s no point talking about who started the tournament better or who is finishing it better. It’s what you show out there tomorrow (Thursday) that matters, otherwise it’s all over.”

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