Group F, rightfully dubbed ‘the group of death’, will provide plenty of mouth-watering clashes as France, Portugal, Germany, and Hungary do battle for a place in the round of 16.
The first blockbuster dished up sees the reigning champions of the last two World Cups pitted against each other at 8:00pm GMT+2 on Tuesday, with France taking on Germany at Allianz Area.
In terms of both success and head-to-head matches, France has had the wood over Germany in recent years.
When they met in the semi-finals of the last Euros, France prevailed 2-0.
As for the 2018 World Cup, their performances were poles apart. Le Bleu had a tournament for the ages, lifting the World Cup Trophy, whilst Germany spectacularly crashed out in the group stage.
More recently in the 2018-19 Nations League, the team’s battled out a 0-0 draw, but France prevailed 2-1 on the return leg.
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Germany’s biggest weakness against France will no doubt be their defence. Stopping a front three of Antoine Greizmann, Kylian Mbappe, and Karim Benzema is a daunting task for any defence, let alone one as vulnerable as Germany’s.
This responsibility would usually fall squarely on the shoulders of Joshua Kimmich. If Germany’s to upset France, Kimmich will be on song, marshalling his midfield troops and driving the team’s emotion.
But their key player against France could be goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Neuer kept Kylian Mbappe goalless in Bayern Munich’s 2020 UEFA Champions League Final triumph, and a repeat performance will go a long way to helping Germany succeed.
Why they can win
Coming off a 6-0 loss to Spain in November (their biggest since 1931), and a 2-1 loss at home to North Macedonia, German expectations have hit rock bottom. This could prove their greatest asset.
They have nothing to lose, and as a result can play with a free and fearless menatality.
Then there’s Joachim Löw. It’s the famed managers last hoorah, and not only is he a World Cup winning coach, but he’ll be determined to leave on a high.
Another attribute of this German side that can’t go unnoticed is the chemistry that comes with eight squad members playing together at Bayern Munich. Of these, at least four in Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, and Thomas Müller will be in the starting XI on Tuesday, potentially giving the Germans a slight edge over their French counterparts.
Germany are significant underdogs, but only a fool would rule out a side of this quality guided by a manager that’s won football’s pinnacle.
With a squad as star-studded as theirs, winning this tournament is almost an expectation for France, which could be a blessing or a curse.
This squad is likely to embrace the favourites tag, but you’re hard-pressed to find a weakness, and complacency could be France’s downfall against Germany.
It’s no easy feat to single out the side’s most important player, you could throw a blanket over Mbappe, Greizmann, N’golo Kante and a host of others.
All things considered, it’s hard to go past Greizmann who has served as a barometer for the side in recent years.
If Greizmann plays a strong hand and can find the back of the net, it’s hard to see France losing.
Why they can win
The reigning World Cup champions haven’t regressed since 2018. They boast the deepest squad of the Euros and are oozing talent, with a vast array of attacking weapons.
Germany will exceed the expectations of many, and give France a good run for their money, but France simply have too much quality to lose.
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