It is always fascinating to watch two giants collide. Hosts France and World Champions Germany are the top two teams in the tournament and the match is befitting that of a final in itself.
For the past few years France’s Goliath status has been questioned by many, thanks to their failure in a couple of major events. But in Euro 2016, the boys in blue have hit back at their critics in style. Rampaging throughout the tournament, France have probably established themselves as the no. 1 contender to the title. Iceland, being their latest victim, suffered France’s wrath in the quarter finals during the 5-2 drubbing. This aids the already known fact that France currently boasts of the best attack among the semi finalists. Well, an attack that boasts of the trio Antoine Griezmann, Dimitri Payet and Olivier Giroud can be considered no less than the best. Meanwhile N’golo Kante and Paul Pogba have won battles after battles in midfield. France’s main concern remains its defense which has been rather shaky at best which puts Hugo Loris under a lot of pressure, though he has done well to paper the cracks. Adil Rami’s return is a positive for the French, who returns after his suspension to the defense a much needed boost.
Speaking of the Germans, they will be facing France at the heels of another gigantic battle. Unlike France, Germany had to face a tougher opponent in the quarter finals. Although they beat Italy rather a bit unconvincingly in the penalty shootouts, the Germans will now be boasting a stronger mentality after defeating an opponent of Italy’s caliber. The Germans are the only team left in the tournament that has yet to concede a goal during open play. The only goal they conceded was through a penalty. Stats like these speak volumes about the quality of their defense. They will be facing the French without Mats Hummels who will be serving suspension after receiving his second yellow in the previous game. However, Benedikt Howedes is more than capable to fill in for him. Sadly for the Germans, they lost out Sami Khedira to injury in the previous game. But with Bastian Schweinsteiger waiting the wings, the Germans have that part covered too. The only weakness that the Germans need to worry about is that they haven’t been clinical enough. It seems quite shocking but the fact is that their conversion rate has been rather poor compared to the chances they have created. They have tried not to make it evident so far but against the French they will be totally exposed. I totally expect Kante and Pogba to limit their creativity on the French side of the pitch, which is why it is absolutely necessary for Ozil, Muller, and Gomez to put on their shooting boots for the match and also hope for Draxler to be …well eh.. Draxler.
It is rather difficult to pick a side of two to be fab favorites and thus the game on Friday looks guaranteed to be nothing less than a spectacle of an event. I have prepared my couch and popcorn cans and am fully prepared to be glued to the television set for a longer period because in all probability, the match might just end in penalties.
God save the faint-hearted!
Ali Shaan Haider
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