Fearless French versus German Juggernaut: Match of the Tournament?

The demolition of Iceland by the France national team yesterday was a timely reminder to all the detractors who had questioned their pre-tournament favourites tag. Where the English had failed, the French succeeded and how. The semifinals clash between the two powerhouses of European football promises to be an intriguing affair. While it’s anyone’s guess as to who the winner would be at Stade Velodrome on July 8th, the clash promises to be a high octane affair with plenty to be excited about.

Fearless French versus German Juggernaut: Match of the Tournament?

The two coaches on the opposite end though, will be scratching their heads heading into the match.

Germans overcome the fighting Italians, but at what cost?

While it may be argued that Germans overcome the more tougher opponent in the form of Italy than the French, the loss of some players will be a huge blow to the title aspirations of Joachim Low. The sight of Sami Khedira coming off at fifteen minutes has put a huge question mark on his participation in the upcoming clash. In addition, striker Mario Gomez has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament with a torn hamstring. Though understated, his absence too is an equally big loss for the German team. The strategy of playing Mario Gotze as a “False Number 9” hasn’t yielded much. This was the reason that the introduction of Gomez as a proper No 9 in the reserves had paid off in the last few matches for Low.

Another potential absentee, Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has left the national team fretting on his fitness.. A midfield fulcrum for his side, Schweinsteiger was slowly returning to fitness and the form that had persuaded the Manchester United hierarchy to lure him from Bavaria. The captain had contributed with a late goal in their first match against Ukraine. He had admitted that he was keen to be in the starting eleven but the presence of Khedira had made it difficult for him to do so. Now that Khedira is a doubtful for the upcoming clash, he would have relished the chance to take up the midfield role.

Instead, he finds himself in the vicinity of Khedira on the treatment table battling the same nemesis of his that has ruined his first campaign with the Red Devils. To add insult to the injury for Low, the suspension of Hummels is also a headache he has to deal with. But the consolation of having Shkodran Mustafi, the man to hit the opening goal for Germany in Euro 2016, in reserves may ease the pain in defence. Thus, Low will have to shuffle his pack prior to the meeting with Deschamps’ wards, a prospect he might not be relishing much, especially with the crux of his team missing.

All rosy for French but can Deschamps get it right?

The return of N’Golo Kante and Adil Rami in midfield and defence respectively will be music to the ears of Didier Deschamps but it also brings its own set of headaches.With Samuel Umtiti performing admirably for Les Blues on his debut,it will be a tough call for the manager to pick among Rami and Umtiti. Though performing admirably, Umtiti may have been guilty for Iceland’s second goal. To hold it against him and use it as an excuse to omit his name from the starting eleven would be harsh on him. But by overlooking Rami, is it too much burden on the young shoulders of Umtiti, especially in a big clash with Low’s charges.

The Germans, unlike any other opponents that France have played so far in the tournament, will not let them come back once ahead. One has to only recall their mauling of Brazil in World cup to dispel any doubts that may be there. Also, with the fluidity provided by the inclusion of Moussa Sissoko, does deschamps go for extra solidity in the midfield against Germany, especially considering the envious midfield talent that they possess or does he go with the attacking threat of the Matuidi-Sissoko-Pogba-Payet-Griezmann combination that demolished Iceland defence? One thing is certain, he has to get it right.

The home support might not be enough if Deschamps puts a foot wrong. Just ask Brazilian defender David Luiz.

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