The FourFourTwo Preview: France vs Germany
Europe's grand masters go head to head…
Now here's a tie to liven up any World Cup: the powerful, aggressive Germans versus a French team unshackled from the personal issues that hampered their behind-the-scenes preparations (the Samir Nasri controversy). It could be argued they're playing some of their best football in years.
But, wait! What of the attacking confidence and assured defensive displays that became a mark of both teams' marches to the knockout round?
Against Algeria, Joachim Low's men looked anxious in defence, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer having to make a number of nervy clearances from outside his area. Likewise, the French looked occasionally shaky against Nigeria during their second round fixture.
This could be a nerve-wracking tie for either manager should their strong front-lines (Germany, Thomas Muller; France, Karim Benzema) fail to hit the ground running. Which is bad news for fans of those countries, compelling viewing for the rest of us.
What the local media say
Olivier Giroud told France 24: "France is now officially one of the eight best sides in the world. We are hugely proud. We’ve worked at this for months and we’ve been rewarded for it. But the adventure hasn’t finished yet." The striker added: "We know we’ve achieved something big, but we’re not setting any limits. We can make history.'"
"What was planned as a brilliant idea ends up being possibly 'the worst free-kick trick in World Cup history' as the British newspaper Daily Mail judges. The Swiss newspaper look says, 'German ridicule with slapstick free-kick.' Somehow both papers are right. But we can we at least say that the German team, as opposed to the British and Swiss are already in the quarter-finals …" - Sport Bild.
Key battle: Karim Benzema vs Manuel Neuer
One of the talking points following Germany's extra-time win over Algeria was the speed of Neuer when departing his box to challenge attackers bearing down on goal. Playing a high line meant the German defence were often exposed with long passes over the top. Should France attempt to expose this defensive trait, Benzema could profit, especially if going toe-to-toe in a short dash with the sloth-like Per Mertesacker.
Facts and figures
- There have been 17 goals scored in the 3 previous World Cup meetings between France and Germany, an average 5.7 goals per game.
- Germany have scored 2 or more goals in each of those World Cup matches and are unbeaten since their first World Cup clash with France in 1958 (3-6 defeat), winning in the 1982 clash on penalties (3-3) and winning in 1986 (2-0).
- On the last 5 occasions that France have progressed past the first round in the World Cup, they have reached the semi-final stage (1958, 1982, 1986, 1998 and 2006).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Germany to win 2-1.