The host nation have a major hurdle in their way if they are to reach the final.
Germany v France - Thursday 7th July, 20:00
Germany missed their first penalties in a shootout since 1982 last weekend but Manuel Neuer lived up to his billing as the best keeper in the world to ensure they remained on target to add the continental crown to their global one. Their progression didn’t come without a cost, however, as Mats Hummels sits this one out with a suspension while Mario Gomez picked up a tournament ending injury and both Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger are rated as doubtful.
These teams met two years ago in Brazil at the quarter-final stage and there wasn’t much to separate the sides that day as a Hummels header was enough to decide matters. However, aside from that result, France have dominated the head to head record between these nations as they’ve won six of the nine meetings since 1990, including a friendly last November that will be remembered more for the tragic terrorist attacks. That shouldn’t have much of a bearing here though and Germany will no doubt point out that they won the only competitive match in that time. However, eight of their last 10 tournament matches have had fewer than three goals with six having fewer than two so we certainly expect a tight affair.
France produced their best performance of these Euros as they thrashed Iceland in the last round but having faced Ireland in the round before and a relatively easy group this is a big step up from anything they’ve faced so far. Since Deschamps took charge of France four years ago they’ve gone W6-D2-L5 against teams we had ranked in the top 10 and while that doesn’t tell us much their three competitive games had just four goals in total.
This is the 22nd match at a World or European Championships since 1970 where a team had won by at least three clear goals in the previous knockout round and the 21 teams to do so have a very poor record of W3-D8-L10.
Since 1976 there have been 16 knockout matches at major tournaments (Euros, World Cups and Copa Americas) where both teams have been ranked in our top 10 and one has been the host nation. 11 of these matches have finished all-square and if we narrow that to two top-six sides it is seven draws in 10 matches. Removing the host nation filter and we’ve had 38 knockout games at major Finals since 1976 between two top-six nations and the higher ranked team has gone W11-D18-L9 while 18 of the last 27 have been level at half-time.
There’s definitely a strong draw trend at this stage when two such strong nations go head-to-head and with Germany weakened with the absence of Hummels and Gomez we’d expect them to play relatively cautiously. With that in mind the draw looks a great bet.