The first blockbuster game of the UEFA Euro 2020 will come our way this Tuesday as France lock horns with Germany at the Allianz Arena in a Group F clash.
The games continue to come thick and fast in the UEFA Euro 2020, with the final set of round one fixtures set to be played out this Tuesday. Things will kick off in Group F, the group of death, with Portugal taking on Hungary before the focus shifts to the Allianz Stadium where World Champions France square off against faltering giants Germany in a monumental clash.
France have enjoyed a lot of success under the tutelage of Didier Deschamps. From making it to the finals of the Euro 2016 to lifting the World Cup the last half-a-decade has been memorable for Les Bleus. They enjoyed a straightforward run through the qualifiers, topping Group H with eight wins in ten (D1 L1) before cruising through to the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League finals after a solid run of results last year.
Since the turn of the year, the World Champions haven’t lost any of their five games, winning each of the last four, including the two pre-Euro friendlies against Wales and Bulgaria earlier this month, putting them in a good shape. However, like in the yesteryears, there has once again been dressing room unrest within the French camp ahead of the tournament which must be put aside if they are to lift the continental crown.
As for Germany, following the humiliation at the World Cup in 2018, they faced the prospect of relegation from League A of the UEFA Nations League, only to be saved by the change in rules. In the aftermath of that, it seemed like Die Mannschaft had turned over a new leaf as they won seven of their eight games in the Euro Qualifiers to top Group C ahead of Netherlands.
However, Joachim Low’s side went through another underwhelming run in the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League last year, failing to win four of their six fixtures (D3 L1). Things started well this year with two wins in two in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers before a shock 2-1 defeat to North Macedonia in March, followed by a 1-1 draw against Denmark in a friendly earlier this month. However, they did thrash Latvia 7-1 in their latest encounter.
The last time France and Germany clashed was in 2018, with Les Bleus picking up a 2-1 win over Jogi Low’s men. Ahead of this blockbuster clash headed our way from the Allianz Arena, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
The big news in the lead-up to the tournament for France was that Karim Benzema had been called up to the national team after a long six-year absence. There had been doubts over his involvement in the opener after he was injured in the friendly against Bulgaria, along with Antoine Griezmann, but the duo is fit and available for Didier Deschamps.
Kurt Zouma is likely to miss out with a minor issue, although the Chelsea ace was never in line to start. The World Champions will set up in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation with captain Hugo Lloris manning the goal. He will be shielded by the solid centre-back partnership of Raphael Varane and Presnel Kimpembe while the Bayern Munich duo of Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez line up as the full-backs on the right and left, respectively.
N’Golo Kante will sit at the base of the diamond midfield and look to break up play for the French with Corentin Tolisso lending him support. Meanwhile, Paul Pogba will have the creative freedom to push forward and pull the strings in the final third of the pitch.
Griezmann, who should occupy the tip of the diamond, will have a free role to drift across the frontline in an attempt to find pockets of spaces from where he can hurt the German defence. Despite Olivier Giroud’s brace in the friendly win against Bulgaria, it is Benzema who is likely to get the nod as one of the strikers, with PSG sensation Kylian Mbappe expected to be his partner.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Hernandez; Kante; Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann; Mbappe, Benzema
Germany welcomed back veteran duo Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels into the national team fold after a two-year exile. Both of them are expected to feature from the kick-off when the World Champions come visiting on Tuesday. Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka, however, will miss out for Joachim Low’s side due to an injury.
There is no looking past the brilliant Manuel Neuer in goal for Die Mannschaft who are expected to set up with a three-man defensive unit in what will be Low’s final tournament in charge of the team. Hummels will be at the heart of the backline, marshaling Matthias Ginter and Antonio Rudiger on either side of him, with the trio needing to be on their toes against Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema.
Joshua Kimmich has grown into one of the best central midfielders in Europe but will find himself shunted out at right wing-back for Germany due to the lack of a better option in the position. On the left flank, Robin Gosens is a certain starter and he will pose a threat with his constant forward forays.
Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos seem to be the preferred partnership in the middle of the park for Germany. And while the duo offers great quality on the ball, they could leave the defence exposed up against the likes of Pogba, Griezmann and Tolisso. That will be one area of concern for Low heading into Tuesday’s contest. Florian Neuhaus is the other option at the manager’s disposal for the midfield berth.
As for the final third, the onus will be on veteran forward Muller who is likely to operate as a false-nine, hoping to create openings for the two wide players in Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry with his movement and link-up play. In Leroy Sane, Timo Werner and Jamal Musiala, Low has options to fall back upon in attack.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Neuer; Ginter, Hummels, Rudiger; Kimmich, Gundogan, Kroos, Gosens; Havertz, Muller, Gnabry
- This will be the sixth meeting between France and Germany at a major tournament, but their first in the group stages. So far, their head-to-head record is perfectly balanced with two wins each and a draw.
- France are unbeaten in their past five games against Germany on German soil (W3 D2). Their only previous meeting in Munich ended goalless (Allianz Arena, September 2018).
- This will be Joachim Low’s 18th game as manager in the European Championship, a record. Low has led Germany to the semi-finals in five of his six previous tournaments, the only exception coming at World Cup 2018 (group stages elimination).
Player in Focus
Kylian Mbappe (France)
Karim Benzema was a strong contender for this category but instead, we have gone with Kylian Mbappe, following the recent developments surrounding him and Olivier Giroud, which has led to the aforementioned unrest in the French camp.
One of the most gifted forwards in the game currently, coming on the back of yet another stunning season in which he scored 40+ goals for PSG, it is important that the 22-year-old do away with all the distractions and focus on his game. Given his ability, Mbappe can change a game on its head in a single moment of magic and France will be needing him at his best to navigate through the Group of Death.
Thomas Muller (Germany)
⚽️ First goal since March 2018
🎯 First assist since October 2017
🇩🇪 Last night, Thomas Muller was back doing what he does best for Germany! pic.twitter.com/9ukMb07Zni
— Sporting Index (@sportingindex) June 8, 2021
Having been exiled from the national team by Joachim Low in 2018, Thomas Muller is back in German colours after over two years and celebrated his return with a goal against Latvia last week. The veteran attacker enjoyed a fine season with Bayern Munich during which he set up a record 21 goals in the Bundesliga.
Given the lack of big tournament experience in Germany’s attack, the wily Muller can be a crucial player for Die Mannschaft with his ability to score and create. Expect him to be a handful for the French defence to deal with.
France 2-1 Germany
France have been in top form heading into the tournament and have rightly been billed as one of the favourites, considering that they have lost just once in their last 20 clashes. Despite the brewing disharmony in the dressing room, this unit has time and again shown that it has the quality and the depth in options to beat the best of teams.
As for Germany, they are far from the force they once used to be. And even though they are coming into the game on the back of a morale-boosting 7-1 win, there remain some deficiencies within the ranks that France are capable of exploiting. Even though Die Mannschaft will be playing in front of over 10,000 supporters at the Allianz Arena, it is the World Champions that are likely to come out on top on Tuesday night.