The World Cup champs against the hosts. This promises to be a belter.
Germany and France clash in a huge semifinal in Marseille on Thursday as the eyes of the world watch on.
Whoever wins this game will fancy their chances of getting past a workmanlike Portugal in the final on Sunday at the Stade de France to be crowned European champs.
[ MORE: Latest news from EURO 2016 ]
The stakes couldn’t be higher and for France, their manager Didier Deschamps has no suspension or injury worries. Joachim Low, Germany’s manager, can’t say the same as he’s missing Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira through injury, plus star center back Mats Hummels is suspended.
That will force Germany to reshuffle but they will still go into the game as a favorites, despite just edging past Italy on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals, while France blew Iceland away 5-2.
Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller have yet to get going but with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kross holding down central midfield and Mesut Ozil dazzling, France know they will be in for a tough encounter. Defensively Germany have been strong, conceding just once so far in five games.
France is the top scorers in the tournament with 11. Antoine Griezmann has four goals to his name to lead the tournament, plus Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet have three each. The French last won the European Championships in 2000 courtesy of David Trezeguet’s golden goal, while Germany last won the competition in 1996, but they’ve reached the final in 2008 and the semifinal in each of the last two tournaments.
Germany edged past France 1-0 at the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals but these teams are evenly matched throughout and although the fans may give the hosts a boost, Germany have been ruthlessly efficient so far. Plus, France hasn’t beaten Germany at a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
Below is everything you need to know ahead of a what should be an epic semifinal.
EURO 2016, Game 50: Germany vs. France
Where: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Live: Commentary live via NBCSports.com, 3 p.m. ET
Key battle: Mesut Ozil vs. N’Golo Kante – Can Ozil get on the ball and dictate the tempo? He certainly got some joy against Kante in the PL this season but the German playmaker may have to float out to the flanks to do the damage.
Injuries/suspensions: Mats Hummels (Germany, suspended), Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira, (Both Germany, injured)
Germany to win 1-0 – I think Germany will grind out another result. This won’t be a classic, folks, and the winner of this game will likely win the tournament. The pressure will be on both teams and although France’s attack blew Iceland away in the quarterfinal, they’ve blown hot and cold throughout this tournament. Despite injuries and suspensions, ruthless German efficiency will prevail.