World Cup 2014: Germany v France

GER 1 – 0 FRA: “L’attaque est la meilleure défence” – it has served the French well so far in this World Cup so it was somewhat surprising to me that their coach Didier Deschamps chose to employ a far more conservative approach against a German team who are specialists at soaking up pressure and seeing out a game at the highest level. From the moment Mats Hummels superbly headed the Germans ahead from an inswinging Toni Kroos set piece after twelve minutes at the Estádio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, I couldn’t see anything else but a gritty German win. And so it proved to be the case. France did not lack endeavour or work rate, they had much the better of the possession and mustered the majority of the shots on goal. However, they lacked the quality in the penalty box and failed to commit men further forward when it really counted. Opting against playing another out and out forward in Olivier Giroud was a mistake and the French could never really grasp the midfield which Germany dominated through the brilliant Schweinsteiger and Khedira. The best chance of an equaliser fell to Karim Benzema just before the break, however Manuel Neuer was equal to his effort and the French hopes of progressing dwindled. The second half was frustrating to watch as Germany looked to close the game out and the French lacked invention. It was a lesson in pressing and defensive positioning from the Germans who did not allow Cabaye an inch to manoeuvre and suppressed the service to diminutive playmaker Valbuena. Paul Pogba was again ineffective and his World Cup was extremely disappointing in my eyes. Lahm was magnificent, Höwedes and Hummels impenetrable. So, it is the same old story and who is surprised? The Germans reach their fourth consecutive World Cup semi-final but they have failed to go on and win on each occasion. Will this be their time?

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