By Antony Jordan
The second Euro 2016 Semi Final match in Marseille sees a clash of the two pre-tournament favourites as the world champions take on the host nation at the Stade Velodrome, where France secured a thrilling 2-0 injury time win over Albania in the group stages. Germany will play their first match on this ground against France looking for revenge for defeat on French soil at the end of 2015, but with a place in a winnable Euro 2016 final available for the victor of this second final four stage match you can be sure that both of these sides will go all out for victory.
We preview this Germany v France clash with online sportsbook Bet365.com to provide our penultimate Euro 2016 pick of this tournament.
To Win (in 90 minutes):
To Reach the Final:
Route to the Semi Finals:
The Germans come into this Semi Final clash having conceded just a single goal in five games as they topped Group C ahead of Poland, Northern Ireland and Ukraine as they defeated the latter pairing and drew with the Poles with three goals scored and zero conceded. Despite looking as if they had cruised through the group stages Germany were far from impressive and required some last ditch defending to keep their opposition out, but they put all this behind them in the last 16 stage with a comfortable victory in their first knockout stage clash. They breezed past Slovakia 3-0 in their best showing in France, but found things much tougher at the Quarter Final stage against a solid Italian side as they needed sudden death penalties to secure their passage to the final four stage. The French are much more of an attacking threat, so can Germany rediscover their goal scoring form for this vital decider?
The French are the top scoring side at Euro 2016 as they have netted 11 times in their five matches so far. Despite this they too did not begin their campaign on home soil in the best of forms as their Group A campaign saw them minutes away from a terrible set of results. Three of their four goals at the group stage came on or after the 89th minute as late goals saw them beat Romania 2-1 and Albania 2-0 before securing top spot with a 0-0 draw against Switzerland. Things did not get much better in the knockout stages either as they were behind against Ireland after a minute before putting in a fantastic second half performance to win 2-1 thanks to a pair of quick fire goals from Antoine Greizmann to break Irish hearts. However, there were goals galore in the Quarter Finals as France scored their first goals in the first half of a match at this competition against Iceland as they were 4-0 at half time and then triumphed 5-2, but will we see another goal rich performance from the hosts in Marseille tonight?
Germany are missing some big players for this most important of matches as defender Mats Hummels is suspended and Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez, the latter of the pair is the German top scorer with two goals, are both injured. As well as this captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is a doubt after suffering a knee ligament injury, and to top all of this off they are rarely scoring goals. Thomas Muller was expected to be the top scorer for the whole tournament but he is yet to get off the mark – even missing his penalty in the shootout versus Italy in the Quarter Finals – and even though they have netted seven times in the tournament only the injured Gomez has scored more than once. Will manager Joachim Löw take the plunge and put the man who has netted five at each of the last two World Cups front and centre to lead the line?
French boss Didier Deschamps is in exactly the opposite camp to his German counterpart as he not only has a fully fit squad and big, but good, team selection issues but he has a trio of goal scorers in Olivier Giroud and the previously mentioned duo of Payet and Greizmann who have scored three, three and four goals respectively so far. The selection issues that will weigh on Deschamps’ mind are whether to restore Adil Rami and N’Golo Kanté after their one match bans, and with these two players having seen France concede just two goals in the four matches they have started it is very likely to see them line up for kick off.
These two nations have met four times in a major competition before this Semi Final match – all World Cups – and after France triumphed in 1958 the Germans have since won all three meetings in 1982, ’86 and two years ago in Brazil. France, however, did win the last meeting in November, in a match that was marred by terrorist attacks, but they will have to overturn a lot of history if they are to live up to their favourites billing.
Germany have eliminated the host nation of either the World Cup or European Championships on seven occasions and six of these have come at the Semi Final stage, including France at the 1982 World Cup, and while they have not been playing the most attractive football so far they have been effective in what they have done.
We can see the Germans stifling the French side in this game, but with their lack of goals and missing players they will find it difficult. France have a number of goal scoring threats both up front and in the middle of the field couple with ability and non-stop running, and we feel that all of this will see the French side outscore their opposition and move into the final on Sunday.