The second semi of the UEFA Euro Championships looks like it could well overshadow the final itself, between the in-form hosts France and the World Champions Germany.
France: Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Évra; Pogba, Kanté/Sissoko, Matuidi; Griezmann, Giroud, Payet.
Germany: Neuer; Höwedes, Hummels, Boateng, Hector; Kroos, Khedira; Müller, Özil, Draxler; Gomez.
There have been a total of twelve previous encounters between France and Germany, with the French winning six, Germany winning four times and two draws. Five of those games have been in the last decade, with honours split evenly two apiece and a draw. Neither side has managed to score more than twice in that time. France won the last encounter last November 2-0. It was their first clash since Germany beat France 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup.
While Germany didn’t lose any matches and finished at the top of their group, they weren’t exactly dominating their opponents. They beat the lowly Ukraine 2-0, before a shock 0 all draw with Poland in Round 2. They only managed to score a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in the third round to advance to the knockout stage. They then lifted their performance emphatically, handing Slovakia a 3-0 defeat in the Round of 16. They came up against a formidable opponent in Italy for the Quarter final, which was drawn 1 all. Germany won through 6-5 on Penalties.
Host nation France were also seemingly reserved in their Group matches, beating Romania 2-1, Albania 2-0 before being held to a scoreless draw with Switzerland in the final group match. It was still enough for them to secure top spot in their group though. They then came from behind to beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in the Round of 16. They then hammered the Iceland side that ended England’s tournament, by a dominant 5-2.
Boateng v Pogba – While the forwards have been reserved for the majority of the tournament for both France and Germany, the midfielders have been slick. Pogba especially has been providing some great fast passing which was seen in full effect against Iceland, while Boateng is an efficient passer who provides great service to his forwards. These two will also be vital if this game goes to a shootout.
There is every chance this game will go to a shootout. Germany is methodical. France is free flowing. Both are starting to play well. Only the home crowd for France separates them.