Germany take on host nation France tonight with a place in the final up for grabs. Both sides are giants of European football and this match on its own could easily be the final of a major tournament.
Path to the semis:
Germany kicked off their EURO 2016 campaign with a 2-0 win over Ukraine where they were tested on occasions but ultimately proved to be too strong. Next they played out a monotonous 0-0 draw with Poland where they seemed to lack a target man upfront. Coach Jogi Low recognised this and started an out an out striker in the form of Mario Gomez in the final group game against Northern Ireland. The striker scored the only goal of the game to secure top spot of Group C for his side. The faced Slovakia in the last 16 and easily brushed them aside 3-0. Gomes was once again on the score sheet as were Jerome Boateng and Julian Draxler. The World Champions could afford to forget a missed penalty from Mesut Ozil as they coasted into the last eight. Last Saturday they faced Italy in a war of attrition. Ozil put Germany ahead in the 65th minute but Boateng conceded a penalty allowing Leonardo Bonucci to level the sides twelve minutes from time. Extra-time and penalties followed with Germany just edging it 6-5. Thomas Muller,Mesut Ozil and Mats Hummels all missed their spot kicks. Germany are a well oiled machine with talent across the pitch. From Manuel Neuer is solid in goal while Boateng provides plenty of protection. The midfield is also full of skillful players such as Ozil and Toni Kroos. Thomas Muller will lead the attack tonight and could be joined by Mario Gotze who is likely to replace the injured Gomez. Bastian Schweinsteiger is expected to start after passing a late fitness test but Sami Khedria will miss out through injury. Germany are a strong side but their defence will miss Hummels who is suspended for tonight’s game. His absence could be telling.
France have gotten the required results throughout the tournament to reach this stage. A late winner from Dimitri Payet saw them defeat Romainia before late goals from Antoine Griezmann and Payet secured a win over Albania. They drew 0-0 in the final group game against Switzerland which saw them top the group. The faced Ireland in the last 16 and went a goal down inside the opening minute when Paul Pogba gave away a cheap penalty. A second half resurgence saw Griezmann score a quick brace to secure passage to the quarter-finals where they demolished Iceland 5-2. Olivier Giroud struck twice with further goals coming from Griezmann,Payet and Pogba. France looked strong however they conceded two goals due to sloppy defending. France have no suspensions or injuries so coach Didier Deschamps can select his strongest 11. France have been spurred on by the home support and the 12th man could once again play a pivotal role in tonight’s game in Marseille. The squad has plenty of talent with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in flying form. The defence has shown weaknesses at times but a midfield that boasts names such as Payet,Pogba,Blaise Matuidi and N’Golo Kante can help cover this flaw. If Giroud and Griezmann are on form tonight they could seriously trouble this German side.
This game will be an incredible encounter that could ultimately see the outright winner of the tournament. It is the fifth finals meeting for neighbours with France yet to win a significant encounter.France are unbeaten in their last nine while Germany are unbeaten in their last six. The winner will face Portugal in Sunday’s final.