Football News brings you the key stats and facts that you need to be aware of before this afternoon’s mammoth Quarter-Final clash between France vs Germany.
1) Didier Deschamps has never lost a World Cup match, as a player or as a manager:
France have achieved the expectations that were set for them before this World Cup, both in terms of the French Football Federation’s wishes of reaching the quarter final stage, but also by playing some of the most scintillating football that the French population has seen in recent decades, including an explosive first half against Switzerland which was rightfully billed as one of the best ever 45 minute periods in France’s World Cup history. One only has to look as far as yesterday’s poll conducted by our colleagues at RMC which indicated that 86% of those included believe that France will beat Germany today. The love for Les Bleus has returned and those Knysna cobwebs are well and truly gone. If it was not already before this World Cup, it is now clear that Didier Deschamps has a firm hold over this 23-man squad, both in terms of successfully stimulating a fantastic inter-squad atmosphere (one only has to look as far as Mamadou Sakho’s emotional press conference from Wednesday) and encouraging and implementing a swift, counter-attacking style of play which has proved to robust for the competition thus far. Deschamps has yet to taste defeat on the World Cup stage, and that must count for something.
2) France’s World Cup road begun on the 7th September 2012, when an Abou Diaby goal saw France beat Finland by just one goal to nil:
The transformation that this French squad has undergone is unparalleled with the other seven nations that remain in this Brazil World Cup. In under two years, a team that included Abou Diaby, Mapou Yanga-MBiwa, Anthony Reveillere and Jeremy Menez edged past Finland in France’s first World Cup qualifying match has been replaced by youthful and exigent talent in the form of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Raphael Varane and an attacking linchpin in the form of Mathieu Valbuena. The raw talent at Deschamps’ disposal equates that whatever happens for the rest of this World Cup campaign, France have an incredible international future ahead of them. The last team to qualify for the World Cup in a dramatic and truly French-styled battle against Ukraine, Les Bleus have played more games that count towards this World Cup than any of their other European rivals. The road has been difficult for Deschamps, with many calling for his head after France lost away to Belarus last Autumn, but surely they now realise the error of their ways. The grit and determination that France have had to show during their World Cup qualifying campaign could indeed serve them well in the tooth-and-nail stages of the main event.
3) Watch the German midfield:
Toni Kroos told the press last night that today’s encounter will be won and lost in the midfield and this is an area that France will have to really excel in, if they are to triumph. While watching Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi has been fantastic in terms of their trickery, distribution and pace (all respectively), ball retention is an area of the game in which the Germans have statistically been better in. Germany’s World Cup pass completion rate of 84% shows up France’s 80%, but perhaps more poignant is the passes complete. Der Manschaft with 2,560 and Les Bleus with 1,807. Now I would argue that the latter statistic is actually fairly irrelevant considering Germany’s game vs Portugal as an anomaly and the fact that they do not implement the same counter attacking game plan that Les Bleus do, which means they tend to hold on to the ball for longer before instigating a move on the opposition’s goal. Furthermore, Germany’s 3 man midfield tends to operate in more defensive areas of the pitch, where, unless the opponent is implementing a rigorous pressing tactic against you, the unit often goes untroubled.
4) Wing play will be key:
France will play Antoine Griezmann instead of Olivier Giroud this afternoon, we are told and Valbuena and Griezmann’s width will be key. Germany’s peculiar setup of 4 central defenders, with two playing in full back positions cost them against Ghana and France must use their pace and trickery to do the same.
France XI vs Germany: Lloris- Debuchy, Varane, Sakho, Evra- Pogba, Cabaye, Matuidi- Valbuena, Griezmann, Benzema
Likely Germany XI vs France: Neuer- Höwedes, Hummels, Mertesacker, Grosskreutz- Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Kroos- Özil, Götze, Müller