France go head-to-head against world champions Germany with a place in the final of Euro 2016 up for grabs (8pm Thursday on BBC1). Read on for this preview of the second semi-final match, which concludes with a couple of considered betting tips.
The hosts made it through to the last four after breezing past Iceland in the quarter-finals on Sunday evening, with Didier Deschamps’ side running out 5-2 winners at the Stade de France. It was a rather comfortable evening for the French, who stormed into a 4-0 lead at the interval and were able to take their foot off the gas to an extent in the second half, which could stand them in good stead for their upcoming clash with the Germans.
The defeat of Iceland was by far France’s best performance of the European Championship. Their combination play in the final third was quick and slick for long periods, while the likes of Paul Pogba (pictured), Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann delivered their strongest showings yet.
Germany’s path to the semi-finals was altogether tougher, with Italy beaten 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes in the pair’s last eight clash. It was probably a fair outcome given the strength of Joachim Low’s charges’ performance in the second half at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux. Germany created multiple chances after the interval having been kept quiet in the opening 45 minutes. It remains to be seen how much that match has taken out of them. There is a chance that such a testing game will have left Germany more fatigued and worn than down than France, who were ultimately able to take things easy against Iceland given the emphatic advantage they had already secured midway through their quarter-final.
France are expected to include Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante in their starting XI after the duo missed the comfortable victory over Iceland through suspension, with Samuel Umtiti and Moussa Sissoko likely to make way. That would entail Antoine Griezmann moving out to the flank after impressing in a more central role so far in the knockout stage, however, which could mean Sissoko actually retains his spot in the line-up and Kante comes in for Blaise Matuidi.
Germany will be without the banned Mats Hummels, who picked up his second yellow card of the competition against Italy. Striker Mario Gomez has also been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament because of injury, while Sami Khedira is not expected to play after being substituted early on in the quarter-final. Germany are expected to revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation after deploying a 3-5-2 against the Italians, with Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil likely to be key to their team’s chances of victory.
Our Preview’s Germany v France Betting Tips
This has the potential to be a memorable tie, with France and Germany arguably the two best teams left in the competition. Overall, though, it is probably worth backing the world champions to get the better of the hosts, who are arguably not quite as complete a team as the Germans.
Low’s men have still conceded just one goal at the European Championship – and that was from the penalty spot – and should have the solidity and resolve at the back to shut out a French side that was admittedly highly impressive going forward against Iceland last weekend.
Our match preview’s verdict is that a 1-0 German victory could be the best bet for Thursday’s clash, which will probably be a low-scoring and tense affair. There is unlikely to be too much between the two sides at the Stade Velodrome, but it is to be hoped – at least from the perspective of the neutrals – that Germany and France serve up an engrossing encounter in this second semi-final.