In what is the marquee clash of the competition, France and Germany lock horns at Marseille as the European heavyweights fight for a spot in the final against Portugal. While Joachim Low has a selection headache, Didier Deschamps has a tactical dilemma to sort out ahead of the big clash on Thursday.
France are faced with arguably the biggest test of their European campaign on home soil with Germany standing in the way of a summit clash in Paris against Portugal. Didier Deschamps’ side often called upon individual brilliance to carry the team forward. However, things were different when the Icelanders came around on Sunday to face the Blues in the quarter-final. In an authoritative team display, France dispatched the minnows by a 5-2 scoreline to set a date with bitter rivals Germany in the semifinals of the competition.
Germany’s Selection Conundrum
Gradually picking up steam through the course of the competition, Germany’s progress in the European Championships this time around has been typical to say the least. However, Joachim Low has pressing issues to deal with, especially in a midfield that has been marred by injuries to first choice players Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
However, Schweinsteiger has since returned to training and is available for selection along with Liverpool’s Emre Can and Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl. Mario Gomez is also ruled out due to injury giving Low a selection headache ahead of the game, with Andre Schurrle the most likely replacement for the former Bayern Munich striker.
Mats Hummels’ suspension having earned two yellow cards means Benedikt Howedes could start along with Jerome Boateng at the back for the Germans, with the full-backs Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector most likely to keep their place. The deployment of a 3-5-2 formation against Italy saw the Germans house three centre-backs at the back, with Julian Draxler making way for Howedes to be plugged into the back-line along with Boateng and Hummels.
But with Hummels out, they are likely to return to their standard 4-2-3-1 formation with a fit-again Draxler taking his spot alongside Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil amidst a midfield trio sitting behind Wolfsburg striker Andre Schurrle.
Tactical Dilemma for Didier Deschamps
N’Golo Kante and Adil Rami return after serving their suspensions for the Iceland game and give Deschamps two different selection head-aches. Kante’s absence against Iceland saw France take the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation as against their 4-3-3, with Moussa Sissoko taking the midfield spot along with Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet behind Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud.
The formation gave the French more attacking impetus and brought out the best in Griezmann and Giroud in a 5-2 thumping of the Vikings. Statistically, Deschamps maybe inclined to go with the 4-2-3-1 with either Kingsley Coman or Sissoko taking the right attacking midfield spot, having managed to score 7 goals in 135 minutes since Kante’s absence as against the 4 goals scored in 315 minutes of the Liecester City midfielder’s presence. His lack in attacking verve compared to the likes of Coman and Sissoko may just work against the favour of Kante, who could instead be brought on late in the game.
Samuel Umtiti enjoyed an impressive tournament debut against the Icelanders putting in a great shift of defensive work to present a solid case for his selection ahead of Adil Rami for the semi-final against Germany. Otherwise with no injury troubles, France have the full strength of their squad to utilize as opposed to that of the Germans who have been plagued by injuries all tournament.