After 21 days of group stage and round of 16 matches, eight teams are left – four European and four South American teams. During these 21 days, we were very lucky to have witnessed some quality football, some star players in superb form and a few nail-biting finishes. Only 8 games are left and then World Cup 2014 will be history. In these eight games let us hope that we can experience thrilling footballing actions.
Germany vs France
In the first quarterfinals, two European heavy weights, Germany and France go head to head. In the group stages and pre-quarterfinals, both the teams have had mixed fortunes – winning by big margins against top ranked teams and struggling against minnows. Germany thrashed Portugal 4-0 but had to work hard against Ghana, USA and Algeria. France, handed a pretty easy group compared to Germany, managed to beat Switzerland easily but found it hard to defeat Ecuador. Even Nigeria gave them a tough fight in the pre-quarterfinals.
Germany (4-3-3) vs France (4-3-3)
The depth of German squad is just incredible – Low can actually create two teams with equally skilled players on both sides. The credit obviously goes to the youth systems of German clubs for producing such exciting talents.
Low used 4-3-3 system in all the four German matches. Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Mario Goetze upfront seems to the only likely option for Low against France. The front three played very well against Portugal causing problems to the defenders with their constant changing of positions. Muller has impressed everyone by scoring 4 goals so far.
In the midfield, Low might select Bastain Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Philip Lahm. Kroos is the star in Germany’s midfield – he can drop back and aid Lahm when the ball is lost and can boss the midfield when in possession. Schweinsteiger provides stability and experience against France’s more energetic and less experienced midfield.
Lahm is a bonus to Germany. He is very versatile – basically he is a defender but he can also play in the wings and in the midfield region. His main duty against France would be to provide cover for his forward running teammates – it may be Kroos, Schweinsteiger or the wingbacks. While defending he can squeeze between Boateng and Mertesacker – an additional centre back for Germany.
The back four is a bit of concern for Low. Mats Hummels is injured and still recovering – but Hummels has said that he is fit and Joachim Low might select him which means Jerome Boateng, who played as a central defender against Algeria, will go back to his initial right back position.
Deschamps will stick to 4-3-3 – France have had some success with this system – a young and energetic group of players means France have been able to play high tempo game.
There may be some changes in the front three. Olivier Giroud looked very sloppy against Nigeria. So Deschamps might start with Antoine Griezmann of Real Sociedad. We can expect Karim Benzema to play as the striker, Mathieu Valbuena to his right and Griezmann to his left. Griezmann brought radical changes to the French side against Nigeria. He combined very well with Valbuena and Benzema and the trio looked threatening in the last 15 minutes of hat match. Valbuena provides the width on the right hand side and can be very effective on the breaks too. Benzema has been the star of the France side so far. If his form continues then it will surely be a problem to Germany.
Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye form the formidable midfield trio of France. Matuidi and Pogba can surge forward through the channels while attacking. Pogba can also dictate the game from the centre of the field. The energy of these midfielders can help France to overshadow German midfield.
Mathieu Debuchy on the right flank can provide the width whenever Valbuena cuts inside. Whereas Patrice Evra has been more defensive in this World Cup. Laurent Koscielny and Raphael Varane will be tested by the German forwards with their lateral runs.
4-3-3 vs 4-3-3 battle will surely be very exciting. The deciding factors of the match will be –
Weather – we have seen small teams dominating possession and dictating the play until the 60 minutes mark. But none of those teams were actually able to continue it for the complete course of the match. We can expect both Germany and France to be conservative in the first half
Midfield domination – Whoever dominates the midfield region tomorrow wins. Both the teams have their own strengths and weaknesses. France can play a pressing throughout the ninety minutes whereas Germany can take advantage of France’s mistake because of their experienced players.
Prediction – France will make it to the semi-finals. Extra time inevitable.