Germany played France and we knew what to expect from this encounter. Some brilliant football. Joachim Löw shifted captain Lahm to right back with a hope that the tactic would work better. Miroslav Klose made his 22nd World Cup appearance, still hunting for the elusive 16th goal. Only Maldini and Matthäus have made more appearances. France got Griezmann back in the line up with Matuidi-Cabaye-Pogba operating again at the heart of the midfield.
The game started brightly for Germany as they dictated play and their midfield passed the ball with some elegance. 12 minutes into the game, they won a freekick and the match was decided then. Real Madrid bound Toni Kroos’ free kick was converted by Mats Hummels with a powerful header that went in off the post. Hugo Lloris was helpless and could only be angry with Raphael Varane who was to blame as he was beaten with some ease. Joachim Löw was ecstatic and the entire atmosphere in the stadium was electrifying and cheers of Die Mannschaft were echoing. Four of the last 5 goals conceded by France have come from set-plays now, something Didier Deschamps should work on for 2016 (Euros) if he still in charge. The remainder of the half was pretty much the same, Germany attacking and France lacklustre. Neuer made a couple of excellent saves and Benzema was pretty disappointing.
The second half was more of the same and Bastian Schweinsteiger dominated midfield. Thomas Muller, the dynamo of Deutschland, never stopped running. France seemed energised, throwing off their cloak of caution. Pogba turned Kroos with a mix of athleticism and elegance. If not for Hummels and Neuer, France would have equalised. When Evra crossed, Benzema directed a downward header which Hummels cleared. Benzema cut in from the left, creating space for the shot well, but failed to challenge Neuer. The life was draining from France’s World Cup dream. Loic Remy had come on, so too did Olivier Giroud but German’s defence was too resolute. With France forced to push men forward, they left themselves vulnerable on the break and Lloris saved well from Schürrle, who ought to have done better eight minutes from time. Neuer then palmed away Benzema’s angled drive late on as Germany held on to seal their fourth consecutive semi-final berth and send France crashing out.
Germany won the game and were tactically far superior. Joachim Low worked his way to Germany’s fourth consecutive World Cup Semi-Finals, a unprecedented record. France failed because too few of their major players responded to the German challenge. Karim Benzema had a couple of chances but never imposed himself properly. He was so bad and now it shows why Real Madrid need Falcao. The vaunted midfield was largely quiet. France went out with a whimper. The Germans were too strong, too organised and too clinical. They sat back and gave too much respect to Germany, and were punished ruthlessly.
FIFA Man Of The Match: Mats Hummels
Easily beat Varane from Kroos’ free kick as he headed his side into the lead with authority and was consistently splendid at the back to boot. He was resolute in defence and was commanding with some authority. If Manchester United do sign him for 20 million, it will be an absolute bargain. He now has as many goals in this World Cup as Rooney and Ronaldo combined.
Our Man Of The Match: Manuel Neuer
Strong save on Varane’s header. Not quite as quick to scamper out of his box as against Algeria, but every bit as confident. Critical late save on Benzema, he was calm and assured. Completed more passes than the Real Madrid striker too. Played the role of a keeper very well and was the difference eventually.
Our Flop Of The Match: Miroslav Klose
Tried his hardest to exploit the space and lapses in concentration of the defence but he was often left to feed off scraps. He was slow and boring and never offered any drive in the final third. Only played in the hope that he’d break Ronaldo Lima’s record of 15 World Cup goals.