Sports Football 07 Jul 2016 Mission impossible: ...

Mission impossible: Euro 2016 hosts to face world champions

AFP | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Jul 7, 2016, 1:31 am IST
Updated Jul 7, 2016, 1:34 am IST
Hosts France face the daunting task of defeating World Champs Germany in second semifinal tonight.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (from left), Jonas Hector and Mario Goetze jog during a training session in Evian-Les-Bains on Wednesday. 	(Photo: AP)
 Bastian Schweinsteiger (from left), Jonas Hector and Mario Goetze jog during a training session in Evian-Les-Bains on Wednesday. (Photo: AP)

Marseille: Didier Deschamps’ talented France block the path of Germany’s spluttering juggernaut in Thursday’s Euro 2016 semifinal and the world champions have mounting personnel problems.

With an element of revenge in the air, France can expect near-fanatical support from home fans in Marseille as they seek a place in Sunday’s Paris final.

The hosts are buoyed by a 5-2 quarterfinal thumping of plucky minnows Iceland when Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet all netted at the Stade de France.

Germany are also confident mood, despite missing key players with injury and suspension after their penalty shoot-out win over Italy in the last eight. France are unbeaten in their last nine games, while Germany have not lost in their last six.

“For us, there is no fear. We know that France are loaded with good individual players, but they are under pressure as hosts,” said Germany forward Thomas Mueller. “Iceland didn’t look so happy with the goals they conceded.

“They have our respect, but I am optimistic that we will find solutions (to the injury problems). For us there is no loss of quality.” Germany’s tense penalty shoot-out win in Bordeaux came at a high price.

Centre-back Mats Hummels picked up a yellow card which sees him suspended in Marseille. Striker Mario Gomez and midfielder Sami Khedira picked up thigh and groin injuries respectively which rule them out of the semifinal.

To compound their problems, Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is highly doubtful with a knee strain. Germany coach Joachim Loew is set to resort to a 4-2-3-1 formation having used a 3-5-2 against Italy.

With Gomez out, World Cup-winner Mario Goetze is set to start up front, but Loew said he may play his Bayern Munich teammate Thomas Mueller alongside him in attack.

Gomez’s thigh tear means he will also miss the final, should Germany progress.
With Hummels suspended, Shkodran Mustafi or Benedikt Hoewedes will partner Jerome Boateng at centre-back with Joshua Kimmich at right-back and Jonas Hector on the left.

France striker Giroud has scored against Manuel Neuer in each of the last three games for France and Arsenal, a threat the Germans must counter.

Scoring goals is only way to defeat Germany in semis: France coach
France coach Didier Deschamps has called on Les Bleus to end their 58-year wait to beat Germany in a major tournament and book their spot in the Euro 2016 final. “We can’t change past history, but we’ve got our own page to write,” Deschamps said in Marseille on Wednesday.

“It’s the players who have to write this page because for the moment it’s blank. We’re facing the best team in the world, but the lads have to believe and we want the fans to believe in us too.

“We need to score goals. This is a team that doesn’t concede a lot of goals,” said Deschamps, who saw his side book their last four spot with an impressive 5-2 win over England’s conquerors Ice-land.”

France play Germany on Thursday seeking their first win over Die Mannschaft at a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden when Les Bleus won 6-3. A glance at the history books, however, suggests France face an uphill task. World champions Germany have beaten France three times since 1958 in World Cup matches.

Despite missing key players with injury and suspension, and with striker Thomas Mueller yet to find the net, Germany are in confident mood. History, after all, is on their side.

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