Coach Didier Deschamps stated earlier that France need to ‘beat the best team in the world’ if they are to win the European Championship on home soil. As the world champions, Germany are certainly the favourites to secure the title of the four left in the competition. However, with the Germans ultimately yet to play their best football, there will be a multitude of opportunities for France to emerge victorious.
Stifle Toni Kroos
Perhaps an obvious objective, but an important one as well. Kroos’s range of midfield passing has been essential to Germany’s success in this tournament, with him regularly dictating matches. Another big performance is needed from N’Golo Kanté, whose tireless energy could prove crucial in winning this midfield battle.
Attack the Full-Backs
With the full-back positions a worry for Germany, this seems to be the perfect opportunity to set Dimtri Payet and Antoine Griezmann free. Both have thrived in the tournament so far and will relish the chance to exploit this German weakness. There were flashes exemplifying this Achilles heel in the Ukraine match, with the Ukrainians enjoying some early success; however, once Germany got themselves in front, the threat faded away.
Giroud Must Take His Chances
Giroud has enjoyed a decent tournament leading the front line for France, but still the criticism remains that he simply doesn’t take his chances. In the 5-2 win over Iceland, Giroud somewhat silenced a few of the doubters with a wonderfully-taken opener. With this meeting with Germany set to be a tight affair, it seems likely he will only get about two or three chances at most. If he takes just one, he’s done his job. Equally, the same can be said for Griezmann, Payet and André-Pierre Gignac, who could be called from the bench late into the game.
Lloris Needs the Game of His Life
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been in top form throughout the tournament and another strong performance is needed on Thursday. France have looked vulnerable defensively, and on the few occasions they were attacked on Sunday they ended up conceding. Lloris needs to lead the pack through the game and, if required, become a hero in the shootout.
These may all be obvious points, yet they prove that Germany are not the side they were two years ago. On Sunday, they tried to reach their free-flowing best following Ozil’s goal but were ultimately unable to do so. Instead, they were dragged into an intense affair and only scraped by virtue of some atrocious Italian penalties.
If France play to their strengths and have the home crowd fully behind them, there is every reason to suggest they have what it takes to beat Germany.