Thursday, July 7, 2016

Euro 2016 - German stress test for France

It is no secret that France has a mental issue when it plays Germany in major semi-finals. Think Espana 1982 when they were dumped in controversial circumstances on penalties; a match most remembered by the karate butt-kick of keeper Schumacher on France's Battiston. Ouch! Think Mexico 1986 when again Platini's team suffered at the hands of the Germans in the last four.

This new France generation may not carry as much inferiority complex but if they are to banish the old demons, they will have to overcome a German team touted as the best in the world. Not just because they are current holders of the World Cup but because they are solid from back to front and can adapt to any type of tempo in a game. Let's face it, there are no real superstar outfield player in there; maybe keeper Neuer is the best in the world, but while Ozil, Kroos, Muller can be very good, they are not among the creme de la creme by any means. But the Germans play on song as a unit and are very difficult to break down particularly with Neuer in nets.  They can break any defence; just ask Italy. They have been the most consistent and impressive team in the tournament and deserve to go into the match as favourites.

Compared to the after-Zidane years, the French are a very strong team, no doubt. They are no longer just big names on the team sheet, they play well as a unit. The big thing about them is that they have a few match winners that can turn a match on its head. Payet, Griezmann, Pogba and Martial can come up with something brilliant at the most crucial moment. Even much-maligned Giroud can find the net if given the space and some luck. The back four is their Achilles tendon but keeper Lloris is usually there as a reliable last resort.

This is going to be a tight chess match and the winner is probably going to edge this one by the odd goal if it does not go to penalties. France has the benefit of the home crowd but the Germans thrive in such inauspicious environments. It's a toss of a coin but I think Germany will make their way to the final.

To qualify: Germany

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