France Hopes Home Cooking Works vs. Germany
By Charles Jay
France has not beaten Germany in a major tournament since 1958. And as recently as the World Cup two years ago, they were vanquished by the eventual champions in the quarter-finals. But they are playing on their home turf, so to speak, with a whole country behind them, and they have plenty of momentum coming into this big matchup that will send the winner into Sunday’s Euro 2016 finals against Portugal. Game time at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille is 3 PM ET.
France has been the most explosive team in the European Championships, scoring eleven goals in five games, and ten of those have come from the triumvirate of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet, with Griezmann the top scorer in the tourney thus far with four tallies. However, the knock on Les Bleus is that they have not had the toughest road getting here, and that is why this is being hailed as, by far, their most difficult test in the event.
Germany advanced after winning on penalty kicks against Italy in the quarters. And at the moment they are experiencing some personnel problems, because Mats Hummels, whose header beat France in the 2014 World Cup, is suspended. He will join Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira, victims of groin injuries, on the shelf for Joachim Low’s squad.
Here are the numbers on the game as they have been established at America’s Bookie:
UEFA Euro 2016 Semi-Final
(Regulation Time Only)
Over 2 Goals -128
Under 2 Goals +108
Low believes he has a partial solution to the injury dilemma, with Bastian Schweinsteiger reportedly available after practicing. He had hurt his knee against Italy, and Low cites his experience as being something that is extremely important here. It’s not only the effect of Hummels, but Gomez is the only player for the German side who has scored more than one goal, in this tournament.
Can Thomas Muller be counted as a big disappointment? Perhaps. One of the world’s top scoring threats has failed to score a goal in ten appearances at the European Championships, and what made things even worse is that he missed on his attempt during the penalty kick phase against Italy.
Germany is an attacking team; there is no question it. But where they may get occasionally reckless on defense, they have the “sweeper keeper,” Manuel Neuer, to compensate for things. One factor that concerns Low, however, is that France is a team that is adept at improvising, and their unpredictability in that regard places them in sharp contrast with Italy, a team that certainly knows how to execute but is fairly mechanical. And so there is the expectation that there will be more of a wide open game than Germany has experienced, and not a plodding chess match as they played in the quarter-finals.
Another contrast here is that France is completely intact, as N’Golo Kante and Adil Rami are back in action after having to sit out the 5-2 victory over Iceland, which became a Cinderella story after beating England but had the clock strike 12 on them in a big way. France attacks and has hot goal scorers, and it is expected that they will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation that will create the best conditions for the likes of Griezmann.
It should be noted that although the numbers we listed above are for the two teams to win or draw in regulation time, they are both priced at -115 to advance. Germany is more accomplished on the world stage, and pummeled homestanding Brazil 7-1 at the World Cup, but France isn’t far behind. And Les Bleus have 15 wins and two draws in their last 17 major tournament games played on home soil. Among other plays we might make, this may be worth a small throw at +175, as the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge continues.
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