The FIFA World Cup 2014 will see former champions France and Germany meet in a mouthwatering clash at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, July 4.
France left it quite late in the day as they got past Nigeria 2-0 in the round of 16 with the goals coming quite late in the second half. While Paul Pogba’s headed in from a corner in the 79th minute of the game, Joseph Yobo scored an own goal in extra time after some good work from Mathieu Valbuena and Antoine Griezmann.
Germany survived a scare against Algeria as the Africans stretched the game into extra time following a fine performance from the underdogs. Andre Schurrle gave the German’s the lead in the 92nd minute after a goal that had a lot more to do with luck rather than skill. Mesut Ozil’s strike in the 119th minute proved to be the winner as Algeria managed a consolation in the dying moments of the game.
Didier Deschamp’s France have been playing a compact brand of football at the tournament. They have excellent balance in the team, especially in defence and midfield where Paul Pogba has stamped his class. In Raphael Varane and Laurent Koscielny, the Les Bleus have a solid central defensive pairing who are well complemented by a couple of attack minded fullbacks in Mathieu Debuchy and Patrice Evra.
Yohan Cabaye has always been a class act and with his range of passing, the PSG midfielder is always a danger on the pitch. Valbuena and Griezmann have done well on the attacking front as well while Karim Benzema has been their star man with Olivier Giroud fluffing his lines.
Benzema had a quite game against Nigeria but one would expect him to come alive against the Germans. After all, the Real Madrid striker has had a great couple of weeks in the tournament with 3 goals from 4 games and some assists to go with them.
The Germans will be gunning for glory though as Joachim Loew’s side continue to believe that the cup is their destiny. On the evidence of their last couple of matches though, Germany need to play better than they have in the tournament.
There have been allegations that Germany are playing tournament football in Brazil or to put it mildly, they are playing it safe. The supporters have not been encouraging of this tactic but defender Per Mertesacker more or less confirmed that the team will stick to this approach in order to win matches.
While Germany are right to be bothered about only the end result, for a team that boasts as much attacking talent as Germany, it is a shame to see them play the way they have at the World Cup. It is time for the Germans to answer back their critics. However, one wonders whether a quarterfinal clash against the 1998 champions is the right occasion for the same.
From a purist’s point of view though, one would hope that the likes of Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, Miroslav Klose and company turn on the heat as fans across the globe look for an entertaining match of football in what has been a drab campaign so far for the Germans.