France and Germany open the quarterfinals of the world cup with an eagerly anticipated clash on Friday. It is a tad sad that these teams have to meet in the quarterfinal, but that is how the luck of the draw goes sometimes. The good thing is that it also makes this match the most eagerly anticipated of the quarterfinal matches.
Both sides have had their moments and not-so-good days. Germany started beautifully against Portugal thrilling their fans with a 4-0 win. However, what followed next were a draw against Ghana and hard-fought victories against USA and Algeria. France’s last two matches have also featured a draw against Ecuador and a labored victory over Nigeria. In some senses, the two teams have had a similar tournament.
Both teams look more convincing attacking than defending. France perhaps look a touch more assured than Germany in defence and in Raphael Varane they have one of the best young defenders in the world. The German defence has looked vulnerable to high quality attacking play. Germany though have plenty of options going forward. Although Ozil is yet to recapture his top form, the versatile Muller started very well against Portugal and has continued to impress. This could still be his World Cup. Khedira, Schurrle, Kroos, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Goetze and Klose are all quality players who can change the game in an instant. Although they did struggle to score in their last two matches, that seems more an aberration than a permanent concern. One thing that Germany should do against France is to get rid of Guardiola’s experiment of playing captain Lahm in the midfield. He is one of the best full backs in the world and his presence in defense not only brings a lot more defensive solidity but also gives width on the flanks going forward.
Talking of attacking strength, France is very gifted in this department too. In their knockout match against Nigeria, their forward line looked toothless till Giroud was replaced with Griezmann. This led to Benzema moving to the centre, his ideal position, from the flank and this made all the difference. France looked like they would score any moment and rather inevitably did. Pogba, equally adapt at defensive midfield duties and scoring goals, is one to watch both here and in the future. Lloris has been strong in goal for France so far and he will have to be at his best again to keep the Germans at bay.
As far as the final prediction goes, France seem the more balanced side to me. They have also managed to sail under the radar while Germany are seen as favourites along with Brazil. This helps the French enormously by taking the pressure off them. It will be a close match to get the quarterfinals underway, but France should squeak past in a tense match.
Prediction: France to win 2-0.