The matchup for the final of Euro 2016 will be decided in Marseille, as Germany and France face each other in the second semifinal.
- Germany are in their sixth consecutive major tournament semifinal. They’re the 2014 world champions, were in the 2012 Euro semifinal, and lost in the final of Euro 2008. They last won the tournament in 1996, their third title in the European championships
- France are two time champions (1984, 2000), but this is their first semifinal in the Euros since 2000. They made the semifinals as well in 1996. In the World Cup, their last semifinal was in 2006, eventually making the final, losing to Italy
Road to the semifinal
- Germany finished the group stage undefeated, beating Ukraine and Northern Ireland while drawing with Poland. In the round of 16 they beat Slovakia 3-0, and in the quarterfinals, after a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes, they beat Italy in the penalty shootout. Germany have conceded just once so far in the tournament
- France opened the tournament with wins over Romania and Albania before a draw against Switzerland. They beat Ireland 2-1 in the round of 16 after falling behind, and destroyed Iceland 5-2 in the quarterfinals, the highest scoring match of the tournament
Down to business
Both Germany and France have injury problems. Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez are injured, Mats Hummels is in doubt. Germany are probably the deepest national side in this tournament, but there’s a limit to how many changes and improvisations Joachim Low can make. He turned to Gomez after his false nine system with Mario Gotze didn’t work. He might be forced to go back to it, and make more formation and tactical changes.
France might have to play without Olivier Giroud, scorer of three goals in the tournament so far, and the bulldozer in front of Antoine Griezmann that makes it a lot easier for the tournament MVP up to this point. Griezmann has scored four goals, and is usually enjoying the abundance of space in front of him created by the attention Giroud draws to himself. The same can be said of Dimitri Payet, who comes from the third line.
Thomas Muller hasn’t had the best of tournaments so far. He’s been deployed all over the pitch, helping in the midfield and defensively. Without their main target man, Germany need the Bayern star to become their scorer, at least for one night, because it’s probably not going to work out with Gotze. In order to take advantage of France’s weaknesses on the wings, Low could opt for Muller in the middle, while Julian Draxler and Leroy Sane play the wings. After what we’ve seen in the tournament, that might be the best option remaining for him.
And if Giroud doesn’t play, what then? I don’t think Andre-Pierre Gignac will start, he’s simply not good enough. Griezmann will probably be moved up front in a position he’s less effective in, and maybe Antony Martial or Kingsley Coman will get another opportunity that they’re not the future of France, they’re the present.