The second semi-finals of EURO 2016 tonight pits the host country France with Germany. France have won the Henri Delaunay Trophy twice while Germany have won it three times.Germany are the holders of the World Cup and if those statistics make the ‘Die Mannschaft’ the favourites, then one can be for a surprise.
The ‘Les Bleus’ are appearing to be peaking at the right time and playing on home soil can be a very big advantage. The French won the World Cup in 1998 defying all odds playing in front of the home fans.On the other side, there is Germany which fights till the last whistle is blown and the team cannot be taken for granted.
But with injuries and suspensions, the Germans are going into battle tonight without the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and Mats Hummels. Add to the absence of firing from the likes of Gotze and Muller. For the French, things are bright with the likes of Griezmann, Giroud and Payet in fine form. The injury to central defender Hummels can prove costly for the Germans. All the contenders for the Golden Boot are from the French team and that is something to worry for the Germans.
France won the World Cup in 1998 when a certain player going by the name Zinedine Zidane conducted the French orchestra and also went on to score two goals against Brazil in the finals. Pogba is not certainly in the class of Zidane but great things are expected of him.
Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil have to fire from the midfield. The strikers have to be on target. The lack of form reminds one of the immense value that was added by a certain Miroslav Klose. It is sad that Germany who at one time invented the concept of the ‘Libero’ do have difficulties in the midfield.
The match between Italy and Germany was highly tactical with no team wanting to lose and in the end the match was decided on penalty. This is the problem with modern football where strategies are more important than flair and fluidity on the pitch.
Coming to the coaches, it is interesting. The French coach is Didier Deschamps who lifted the World Cup in 1998 as the captain of his team as well as the EURO in 2000. The EURO championship would only add to his resume. On the other side, we have Joachim Low who would be willing to add the EURO to the World Cup. By doing so Low would join with the coach of Spain, Busquet to win the EURO and the World Cup.
During the World Cup of 1998, before every kick-off, the French goalkeeper Fabian Barthez was kissed on his bald head by his teammate Laurent Blanc. After the initial wins, this carried on through to the finals. This time, Griezmann is greeted with kiss on his striking boot by teammate, Payet. The French would not mind more kisses from Payet.
In the end, it is a question of ‘who blinks first’. I am waiting for a good contest.
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