France and Germany will meet on 4 July in Rio de Janeiro for the first really big match in the 2014 World Cup. So far all duels, except for those in Group D, have been between a favorite and the underdog, and now two respectable European teams are in for a duel which will give one of them a place in the semi-finals. With this match, the World Cup is really starting.
Neither team had it easy in the round of 16, France were troubled by Nigeria for a large portion of the match but the creativity of Mathieu Valbuena took care of that match as France won 2-0 with two assists by Valbuena. France have looked very good in this tournament, better than expected, and the duel play in midfield has been the particular highlight of their game. Paul Pogba is the key player as he's a consistent performer, but the others, such as Valbuena, Cabaye or Benzema, also join in on a good day. France are not spectacular but are perhaps the most balanced team in this tournament, and it would be no surprise to see them in the semi-finals or even in the grand final. Whoever wins this match will meet either Brazil or Colombia in the semi-finals.
Germany barely managed to win the match against excellent Algeria, 2-1 in extra time. The Fennec Foxes have been a threat throughout the match and could have even won it, but the Germans eventually prevailed only because of their stamina and work rate which gave them an edge in the extra time drama. Until the Algerians got exhausted, however, they were the better team on the pitch and that should be very worrying for the Germans.
This team doesn't dribble at all, they've dribbled past the defender maybe once against Algeria, but their clever moves in the attacking third are still more than good enough to produce dangerous goalscoring situations. This is the best part of the German team, but still, it didn't work very well against Algeria. It didn't work against USA or Ghana either, and the Germans are actually down to a single spectacular victory, 4-0 against Portugal in the first round.
It will be difficult for Germany to have their way in the attacking third against defensively solid France, and the French should have a slight edge in this match if both teams will perform the way they've performed in their four matches so far. France look like they got more creativity and cunning moves in store, but then again, the Germans will rely on their work rate to win this match for them. In any case, it will be an interesting duel between two great European teams, and one of them will get to meet Brazil in the semis.
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