So much anticipation was channeled towards Germany and France. The quarter final fixture had the imprints of excitement all over it. Not only was it a European battle, it was a clash between old foes going head to head for a place in the last four of the world cup. With the rain of goals thus far in the tournament, expectations of a goal feast were high in a match of this caliber. In short it was destined to keep us glued to our screens with our fingers in between our teeth while sitting at the edge of our seats through the stretch of the match. So what did we get in return for our anxiety? Drab! That was how the match panned out. It was done and dusted for Germany, sealing a place in the semi finals with a lone goal scored in the wee minutes of the first half.
Whatever plans the Le Blues had, it sure wasn’t going to work right from the blast of the whistle. It was barely 10 minutes into the match and so much had happened in the French 18 yard area. Goal keeper Hugo Lloris had already been tested twice by Mesut Ozil and the mischievous Thomas Muller. The entire French team had been caught unawares more times than they had the ball. It was going to be a long night for Didier Deshamps and his men. Any spark of brilliance from Yohan Cabaye, Blaisé Matuidi and Paul Pogba in the middle for France was clamped on by the solid wall of the German defensive midfield of Samir Khedira and Bastein Scheweiteger.
Germany wasted no time in making their intent known from the onset, which was to dominate the midfield, press the French deep into their half and allow them panic out of formation in the hope to defend. Right on the stroke of 12 minutes, Toni Kroos played in a sweet free kick from 30 yards out into the French box, Matt Hummels was there to brilliantly head the ball beyond Lloris and into the net. The Borussia Dormund player had the better of defender Rapheal Varane in an aerial duel in the process. It was a familiar tactic by the Germans who had scored 47 goals with the head, more than any other country in the history of the world cup.
The goal looked to nudge France to reality. Matuidi and Pogba combined nicely, setting Mathiew Valbuena on the run down the right. The pint size genius launched the through ball to striker Kareem Benzema upfront but the Real Madrid forward was denied by the alert Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer , who came off his line in familiar fashion to clear the threat. That was as far as the French attacking prowess went all night. They huffed and puffed when they got the ball, which wasn’t regular. For a team whose fluency was perfect leading up to this stage, Deschamp’s men lacked the tempo to surmount the Germans on the counter attacks. Caged in their own half, the boys in blue had to rely on their back four to keep them in the match before the break. On one occasion it took the brilliance of Debuchy to fall Klose right in the box but was let off the hook when referee awarded no penalty. If only Klose hadn’t gone down so dramatically…
Slicing through the French midfield was done without breaking a sweat. Kroos, Ozil and Muller combined smoothly, making ample use of the spaces left by Matuidi and Cabaye; also they drifted in from the wings and forced threats rather than relying solely on individual qualities. It was fast, nifty and full of purpose. Even a pacy winger like Antoine Griezman was hindered in his usual runs down the left by German Captain Phillip Lahm
Not much was seen of Benzema. That went to show how ordinary the French were on the night. They looked lethargic and couldn’t beat either the Germany defense or Neuer. Germany on the other hand have made their way to the semi finals for the 4th consecutive time, which is a record in the history of the world cup.
Written by Latipha Adebayo