France and Germany meet in Marseille for a place in the final of Euro 2016 in Paris. It’s not easy to come up with a favourite. Paula Vilaplana has been looking ahead to the clash with Katharina Rabillon and Vincent Menard and asked Vincent first what the feeling is in his home country?
Vincent Menard: “Yes, all France is starting to dream about a new title at home after Euro 84 and World Cup 98. The most superstitious will have noted that the Blues win the European championship every 16 years: in 84, in 2000, so why not in 2016?
‘And then looking at it objectively we have seen an improvement after victories in the last minutes against Romania and Albania, a boring draw against Switzerland, a good second half against Ireland in the last 16 and a superb demolition against Iceland in the quarter-final.
‘But the first real test, is this match against Germany that has a good record in tournaments against the French.”
Paula Vilaplana: “Germany are of course the World Champions. Basically the team hasn’t changed a lot from the one which won in Brazil. What do you expect from this match?”
Katharina Rabillon: “I expect an exciting match because there are quite a few changes in our team. In Germany many are pessimistic at the moment but coach Joachim Löw is acting cool. Three key players will not be on the field: Khedira, Gomez and Hummels.
‘Löw is now forced to find solutions for these key positions, a difficult task. A big question is: Will he bring on Emre Can or Julian Weigl for this semi final? Besides that we are still waiting for the big Müller-moment, he hasn’t scored at this Euro yet. But the statistics are on our side: Since 1958 France haven’t won against Germany in a World Cup or a European Championship.”
Paula Vilaplana: “France is the top scorer so far in the competition but Germany have just conceded their first goal of the tournament. Attack against defence?”
Vincent Menard: “Before the Championship, we asked ourselves many questions with the non-selection of Benzema who was Deschamps number one choice as a striker and who was ruled out for his role in the affair of the sex-tape of Valbuena.
‘And finally Giroud has been perfect in his centre forward role. He plays a lot as a pivot for his teammates, he frees space of for Griezmann, who has recovered from defeat in the Champions’ League final with his team Atlético, and Payet, who has been a revelation with free kicks. These three players complement each other perfectly and have scored 10 of the 11 French goals. We hope that continues.”
Katharina Rabillon: “Undoubtedly we have the best goalkeeper in the world. Five hundred and twenty seven minutes – that’s for how long he hasn’t let in a goal in this Championship. That’s a record for a German goalkeeper at a big tournament.
‘But this semi final is certainly one of his most difficult challenges. Giroud and Griezmann have both beaten Neuer in the Champions League. On top of that defender Mats Hummels will sit out the match through suspension.
‘And we need to hope Jerome Boateng will not give away any more silly handballs.”
Paula Vilaplana: “A result of the match?”
Vincent Menard: “That’s not easy but I will say 2 – 1 to France with goals from Giroud and Matuidi.”
Katharina Rabillon: “You have home advantage but we are the World Champions, that’s why I say 2-0 for Germany. Good luck!”
Live stream of the day’s events courtesy of La Provence