It’s advantage France after the biggest game of the EURO 2020 group stage so far as a Mats Hummels own goal stand as the difference in the World Cup champs’ 1-0 victory over Germany on Tuesday.
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Germany now stares down two matches without a win if it fails to beat Portugal on Saturday, a Portuguese side that saw a Cristiano Ronaldo brace drive a late 3-0 win over plucky Hungary.
France has won five-straight in all competitions, not allowing a single goal in producing a combined 10-0 scoreline in in wins over Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wales, Bulgaria, and — who did they play?!? — now Germany.
3 things we learned, France – Germany
1. Germany’s defenders disappoint, and maybe bite? This was a day of errors, both physical and mental, as Hummels’ own goal was joined by a potentially-terrible moment from Antonio Rudiger in giving Germany problems along its back line.
Hummels couldn’t get an intervention over Manuel Neuer’s frame and then Rudiger found an unusual way to defend Paul Pogba in Germany’s EURO 2020 opener against France on Tuesday. The Chelsea and Germany defender appeared to nuzzle against Pogba in the late stages of the first half and jammed his face into the French midfielder’s back, eliciting a pained response before grabbing Pogba’s chest. Did he bite the Man United man?
Throw in two France goals wiped out by offside, and this could’ve been a lot worse for a German side awaiting a changing of the guard from Joachim Loew to Hansi Flick. Still, walking away with just a 1-0 loss shows that Germany should not be considered an also-ran moving forward… if they can score goals.
What is Rudiger doing 😳 pic.twitter.com/gsMyYBLyz1
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 15, 2021
2. Mbappe a constant threat: Let’s start with the own goal, which came after Paul Pogba cued up Lucas Hernandez for a cross toward the middle. Hummels’ desperate and unfortunate bid to pop it over the goal from six yards was because the irrepressible Kylian Mbappe was surging toward the pass.
Mbappe was everywhere, denied a late goal by VAR but also pressing German keeper Manuel Neuer and his backs into quick decisions and uncomfortable passes. The PSG man is obviously one of the finest in the game but is sometimes shooed away due to his club’s generally superior place in Ligue 1. To his critics: How does doing it against Germany work for you?
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) June 15, 2021
3. France flexes title muscle: This team, and we’re not trying to be cute, is almost too good. If you could manage to put these players on the same club and allow Didier Deschamps to train them as often as happens at a club, they’d be the favorites to win that competition.
Look at the list of players who were unused subs: Kingsley Coman, Jules Kounde, Lucas Digne, Mike Maignan.
And the players left off the squad: Dayot Upamecano, Tanguy Ndombele, Houssem Aouar, Eduoardo Camavinga…. just wow.
Man of the Match: Paul Pogba — Like him or hate him, the midfielder was the most influential player on the pitch for the victors, showing an exquisite range of passing and getting stuck into 20 challenges (winning 13).