World Cup: Five things we learned from the France v Germany quarter-final
1. A solid foundation
Germany’s backline has been one of its weaknesses in this tournament, but they appear to have got the mix right now. The new centre-half pairing of Boateng and Hummels has eased some of the struggles from previous games with both being strong in the air and mobile. This was by far the strongest defensive performance of the tournament from the Germans.
2. Cut out the fancy stuff
The frontline didn’t put in a particularly strong shift, but the presence of Miroslav Klose seemed to surprise the French. Germany played their only striker from the start in a more traditional formation. This pinned back the French centre halves and gave the Germans a very strong start, which lead to the goal from the set piece, and ultimately the win. It wasn’t the prettiest performance we’ve seen from these players, but it was effective.
3. Ok, so there weren’t goals
It wasn’t the goalfest I predicted, but we can attribute that to Manuel Neuer being huge in the German goal. Karim Benzema had a few chances he really should have buried. That last minute shot given a big palm by the German goalkeeper summed up the night for France. Also, if Andre Schurrle brought his shooting boots there might have been a couple more, so it’s definitely not my fault.
4. And maybe not an instant classic
It turned into a stalemate quite soon after Germany’s strong opening. The midfields cancelled each other out quite effectively, and limited both sides in their build up as well as the counter. Valbuena had a poor match, and Griezmann was kept relatively quiet. Giroud wasn’t given a chance after his horror show last time out, so Benzema was last on his own, and was still unlucky not to nick something.
5. But the better team won
Germany still haven’t given a big confident performance. That said, they were still the better team on the night. But how impressive have France been this World Cup? Their group may have flattered them, but the cohesion of this unit should be admired after the conflict of recent times. And can we go kit nerd for a second? How nice is it, with the red socks, that navy and the collar. Very fashionable, very French, very sad to see it go.