Preview: Germany vs France

Tonight, France will be up against Germany in what should be a thrilling semi-final between the two highest rated sides.

Didier Deschamps of France during a training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match against Germany
Didier Deschamps of France during a training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match against Germany

The winner of Thursday’s meeting between the world champions and the hosts will enter the final as favourites. In fact, both teams will consider this match as a final in its self. Joachim Low’s side will definitely be hoping to match France achievement of holding both the world cup and the European Championship at the same time.

France are still to be truly tested after facing teams which are not on the same level. Their match against Iceland was the first time that they had scored before half time. They are still to be consistent during whole matches which is something that they need to do against Germany.

Last time France met Germany was in the 2014 world cup quarter-finals, when the Germans managed to beat them 1-0 after Mats Hummels scored the important goal. However, Hummels will not feature tonight due to suspension. On the other hand, Deschamps will have full squad since N’Golo Kante and Adil Rami will return.

Low does not have such a luxury since apart from Hummels, they will be without Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira who are both injured, while Schweinsteiger will unlikely to be fit enough to start. This will leave the coach with a selection dilemma, though having to hand out a first major tournament start to a midfielder in a big game is nothing new to the German coach. Two years ago, during the world cup final, Christoph Kramer made his first ever international start against Argentina.

With Gomez also injured, Germany looks short of goals. The Besiktas player is the only German player with more than one goal, while Thomas Muller is still to find the net. On the contrary, France can call upon Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Dimitry Payet, who have ten goals between them.

While spoilt for choice up front, Deschamps must decide whether to recall N’Golo Kante and revert to 4-3-3 or stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that has brought out the best in Griezmann and Giroud. Samuel Umtiti will hope to keep his place after a composed debut, though coming up against Germany will be a real test for the new Barcelona recruit. With Adil Rami hardly inspiring confidence, and with Germany lacking a focal point to their attack, rendering the youngster’s lack of height somewhat irrelevant might be a risk worth taking.

With big decisions to be made by both coaches, this is shaping up to be an intriguing encounter and one that could be the tournament’s peak a few days before its eventual climax. It is unlikely to be the tactical stalemate we saw between Germany and Italy at the weekend, and it may ultimately decide the trophy’s next home.

In such a match, it is difficult to pick a favourite since both teams are quite on the same level. Even history makes it difficult, since in the twenty seven times that these teams faced each other, Germany won nine, while France won twelve. The remaining six matches ended up in a draw.

The referee of this match will be Nicola Rizzoli from Italy.