Germany (Aidan Slinn)

It’s official, this is the longest one of my teams have remained in a sweepstake. It has been a much needed silver lining this tournament, although it shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is the sixth consecutive major tournament for Germany where they have reached the semi-final stage. Funny enough, they are quite used to playing against the home nation, if you cast your mind back to two years ago in Brazil, they managed a remarkable 7-1 win against the hosts. I would expect a much tighter game tonight however at the Stade Vélodrome.

Both teams had very different tests in the quarter finals. Germany had a very hard fought battle against a surprise package Italy team, who took them all the way to a lengthy penalty shootout. The Italians proved a frustrating test for Germany but the evening ended in success and a demonstration of the character within Joachim Low’s squad. Their opponents France had a more comfortable quarter final tie against overachievers Iceland. Les Bleus displayed their attacking quality and free flowing style to defeat Iceland 5-2 with star players Griezmann and Pogba both shining. Didier Deschamps may be bit concerned with the manor they conceded their two goals though and Germany will be looking to exploit the French back four.

A familiar sight. Germany burst with joy after the shootout success over Italy.

A familiar sight. Germany burst with joy after the shootout success over Italy.

 

Die Mannschaft were unfortunate to pick up injuries to Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira. Both will be big misses. Gomez who revitalised the German side from the opening two games is set two miss the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury, I would expect Julian Draxler or Mario Gotze to come in up front. Khedira could be replace by Dortmund’s 20 year old starlet Julian Weigl, who would be making only his second appearance for the national team. Joachim Low will also be missing Mats Hummels through suspension, Shkodran Mustafi likely to fill the void.

Match Prediction: Germany 2 – 1 France

I think this will be a really close game. Both sides will be looking to exploit the attacking areas with some of the best attacking talents of the game will be on the pitch and it should be a really enjoyable game for the neutral. I think that Germany will edge the game, but I’m predicting goals at both ends. Gomez will be a big miss but I fancy Germany to beat the hosts 2-1.

 

France (Jack Rodway)
They say you can only beat what is put in front of you. The standard of opposition the French have dispatched from this tournament hasn’t been the most challenging… but finally the real France have turned up. Just in time as well, as they come face to face with world champions, Germany – by far the hardest opposition they have faced so far – in a mouth-watering encounter.

The 5-2 thrashing of Iceland saw the French stroll into the semi-finals, as they were expected to do, but more importantly it was the individual performances from Didier Deschamp’s big hitters that would have pleased French supporters.

Deschamps will be hoping Griezmann and Pogba can replicate the stellar performances they had against Iceland.

Deschamps will be hoping Griezmann and Pogba can replicate the stellar performances they had against Iceland.

If Griezmann and Pogba play the way they did against Iceland, then I’m fairly certain you won’t be seeing France losing too many games in the near future. However, it wasn’t all just about these two, even Olivier Giroud stepped up to the plate – and it is not very often that phrase can be written. Also, Moussa Sissoko deserves some credit for the way he filled in for the suspended Kanté. Surprisingly, Kantè was not missed, that said, it would still be a huge call for Deschamps to leave out Kantè against Germany. The defence could do with tightening up a little bit, but why focus on a small negative after such a strong performance. Besides Germany have Mario Gomez out injured for this game, who’s going to come and replace him, Mario Götze? What has he ever done? Can’t recall him ever producing the goods when it really matters…hmmm no, I really can’t remember….

 

Match Prediction: France 1-1 Germany (France to win on penalties)

The host nation against the world champions, this game is too tight to call and I for one, can only see the match going the full distance. Whoever wins will undoubtedly be favourite to lift the trophy on Sunday. My gut is telling me to back my sweepstake team – and it will be here where the Germans finally lose a penalty shootout. Allez les bleus.