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Hosts France manage to negotiate a fraught semi-final clash with Germany to send the German World Champions home.
Final Score in Marseille, France 2, Germany 0.
Germany were forced into three changes from the team that started against Italy in the quarter-finals, as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Emre Can and Julian Draxler started in place of the injured Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira and the suspended Mats Hummels.
France were unchanged from the eleven that started the 5-2 mauling of Iceland last time out, with Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud paired in attack.
The hosts offered the first threat on goal on seven minutes. Striker Antoine Griezmann showed good feet to beat the German defence, but Manuel Neuer was equal to the striker’s effort on goal. Germany’s first effort of the game fell to out-of-sorts Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller who rather snatched after an effort following work by Emre Can.
Can was involved soon afterwards, as the versatile Liverpool man hit an effort that took a deflection and appeared to be heading for the bottom corner of the net, only for France ‘keeper Hugo Lloris to get down well to palm the strike away from goal.
The world champions had a penalty appeal turned down on 21 minutes, as Toni Kroos went over in the penalty area in the presence of both Samuel Umtiti and Paul Pogba. Referee Nicola Rizzoli took a look and waved play on.
France came back at Germany and Griezmann hit the side-netting from a tight angle following good work by veteran full-back Patrice Evra. France were handed the advantage, literally, in first half stoppage-time.
Dimitri Payet’s corner kick found the head of Evra, whose header hit Schweinsteiger’s arm in the penalty area. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Schweinsteiger was shown a yellow card.
The tournament’s top scorer Griezmann stepped-up and sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way to put the hosts in front.
France came out brightly in the second half, with Olivier Giroud’s shot well blocked by Jerome Boateng, before the Arsenal striker combined with Griezmann who saw an effort on goal deflect just over the bar.
It was a comedy of errors that lead to France’s second goal on 72 minutes. Young Bayern Munich defender Joshua Kimmich gave the ball away in his own penalty area, then the experienced Neuer failed to deal with Paul Pogba’s cross and Griezmann was on hand to poke the ball into the net from close-range.
Germany came close to halving the deficit straight after the second goal, as youngster Kimmich curled an effort of the outside of the post from the edge of the French penalty area.
The hosts could have extended their lead even further, but Griezmann fired straight at Neuer when given the chance to score his hat-trick. Germany launched one last attack and it was that man Kimmich again.
The full-back saw a long-range effort saved superbly by the sprawling Lloris and that turned out to be the last meaningful effort of the game. In the end France had too much for an under-strength Germany side and will face Portugal on Sunday night in Paris.
The second Euro 16 semi-final plays out later tonight and sees European giants Germany and France face-off for a place in the final of the competition on Sunday against Portugal.
World champions Germany made heavy weather of seeing off Italy in the quarter-finals, drawing with the Azzurri in normal and extra-time only to win 6-5 on penalty kicks.
Joachim Low’s team produced a subdued performance against stubborn Italian team, but took the lead on 65 minutes, as Mesut Ozil found the net. The Azzurri equalised on 77 minutes through a penalty kick from Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci.
The game was all-square at normal and extra-time, so the game went to penalties with Jonas Hector firing home the winning spot-kick, after Manuel Neuer saved Matteo Darmian’s effort.
The world champions are unbeaten in their last six international matches and Low’s team have kept clean sheets in five of those games, conceding just once in the process.
One big major negative for Die Mannschaft from the Italy game was that striker Mario Gomez limped off in the last 20 minutes and the 30-year-old has now been ruled out for the rest of the tournament. The former-Stuttgart star had previously found the net twice in his three appearances and was looking like a contender for the Golden Boot in France.
Gomez is joined on the sidelines through suspension by defender Mats Hummels and through injury by midfielder Sami Khedira. Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is likely to replace Khedira, while Benedikt Howedes will come in at centre-back, if he recovers from a knock.
Germany have won two of the last three meetings with France, with their most prominent win coming in a 1-0 victory over Les Bleus in the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals.
Despite those two recent defeats, France have won six of the last nine international meetings between the pair, including a 2-0 friendly win last time these two teams met in a friendly at the end of 2015.
The hosts have not beaten Germany in a competitive match since the 1958 World Cup and a 6-3 victory.
France breezed through to the last-four with a 5-2 demolition of surprise package Iceland at the Stade de France. Didier Deschamps side were four goals up by half-time.
Olivier Giroud opened the scoring on 12 minutes, before Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann added goals to all-but end the game as a contest. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson scored for Iceland, before Giroud headed home his second.
Iceland got a second goal back on 85 minutes, as Birkir Bjarnason headed home, but the goal meant little and Deschamps side head into this clash in confident mood.
Les Bleus have a good recent record in international matches, having won 13 of their last 15 international games and losing just once in the process.
France are the top scorers in the competition with 11 goals. Striker Antoine Griezmann has scored four times, while Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet have found the target three times, so all three are candidates for the competitions golden boot.
The host nation has a fully-fit squad to choose from with the return from suspension of Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante, who both served one-game suspensions against Iceland.
Germany will no doubt miss the key players who will be absent and the trio will be difficult to replace. The absentees make the hosts Football Issue favourites to make it to the final on Sunday at the Stade de France.
Euro 2016 has reached the semi-final stages with the first last-four clash taking place on Wednesday night, as Portugal goes head-to-head with Wales in Lyon.
Portugal have failed to win any of their games in France in normal time, but have somehow made it to the last four of the competition. Last time out the Selecao needed a penalty shoot-out to get past Poland, after the game finished in a 1-1 draw in normal and extra-time.
Poland got off to the perfect start in that clash with Robert Lewandowski scoring after just two minutes. The lead lasted until 33 minutes when highly-rated youngster Renato Sanches struck found the net with a deflected effort from the edge of the area.
Mercurial winger Ricardo Quaresma was the hero in penalty shoot-out, after Dortmund winger Jakub Blaszczykowski had missed from the penalty spot.
Fernando Santos’ team have disappointed in France, especially star player Cristiano Ronaldo whose two goals in the competition came in the 3-3 draw with Hungary. The Selecao have now won just one of their last seven outings in 90 minutes.
Ronaldo will go head-to-head with Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale, with both players determined to come out on top and make Sunday’s final in Paris.
Portugal does have the edge over Wales in the head-to-head between these two teams, winning two of the three meetings between the two teams. The last meeting between the pair was 16 years ago in a friendly match that finished in a 3-0 win for Portugal.
The Selecao heads into this game without the suspended William Carvalho, who is likely to be replaced by Danilo. Real Madrid centre-back Pepe is a doubt and if he fails to recover in time is likely to be replaced by veteran Ricardo Carvalho.
European Championships debutants Wales have been one of the competition’s surprise packages and produced a superb 3-1 win over Belgium in the quarter-finals.
The Red Devils started the game in a strong manner and took the lead through highly-rated midfielder Radja Nainggolan. However, Welsh captain Ashley Williams equalised, before goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and substitute Sam Vokes in the second half sealed a historic victory for Chris Coleman’s team.
The Dragons have won four of their five games in the competition and only host nation France has scored more goals in their five tournament games.
Real Madrid star Gareth Bale is no doubt Wales’ star player and he has scored three times in France. The former-Tottenham star will be looking to help his team reach the final and in the process get the better of Los Blancos teammate Ronaldo.
Wales have fielded a relatively consistent team throughout Euro 2016. However, Wales boss Chris Coleman will have to make at least two changes to his team for this clash, as both Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey picked-up their second yellow cards of the campaign against Belgium, so are both suspended. Ramsey will particularly be missed as he has produced four assists in France so far.
West Ham’s experienced centre-back James Collins is likely to replace Davies, while Andy King and Jonathan Williams are in contention to replace the influential Ramsey in midfield.
This game will be billed as Cristiano Ronaldo v Gareth Bale, because both are regarded as their teams most high-profile individuals. However, it is far more than that with both teams desperate to make it to Sunday’s final.
Wales will be hoping that they will not miss their two suspended players too much, while Portugal will be looking for Ronaldo to rediscover his best form, after some disappointing displays from the prolific forward.
The first semi-final of the Euro 2016 championships saw Portugal book their place in Sunday’s final with a 2-0 victory over surprise package Wales who will go home heroes in the country.
The first half produced very little by the way of goalmouth action. Wales were slightly fortunate not to concede a penalty kick, as James Collins grappled Cristiano Ronaldo to the ground. At the other end Real Madrid star Gareth Bale fired over the bar, before the forward fired straight at Portuguese ‘keeper Rui Patricio.
Bale’s club-mate Cristiano Ronaldo had his first sight of goal just before half-time, heading over at the far post when challenged by James Chester.
Portugal came out the stronger in the second half and took the lead on 50 minutes. Raphael Guerreiro picked-up the ball from a short corner and found Ronaldo who produced a powerful header from inside the area that beat Wayne Hennessey in the Welsh goal.
The Selecao doubled their lead just three minutes later. Ronaldo miss-hit an effort from 25 yards out and Nani stuck his foot out to divert the ball into the net from close range.
Portugal had chances to increase their lead, as Joao Mario fired an effort past the near post and Hennessy saved a Jose Fonte header. Wales hardly threatened Portugal’s goal, but Bale produced two long-range efforts that were saved by Rui Patricio.
Hennessey kept out an effort from Danilo and Ronaldo fired wide, as the Selecao comfortably made secured their place in Sunday’s final. Both Ronaldo and Nani have the added target of the golden boot, with both players currently on three goals apiece in France.