First-time semi-finalists France face the daunting challenge of taking on the eight-time champions tonight at Stadium MK, kick-off 8pm, in their bid to star at Wembley. But the underdogs are about to surprise a few people, writes Um-E-Aymen Babar.Embed from Getty Images
France booked their place in the last four after securing a narrow 1-0 victory over defending champions the Netherlands, thanks to Eve Perisset’s extra-time penalty. They might have left reaching their first Euros semi-finals late, but underestimate them at your peril.
France have excelled on a number of counts. They are one of the most multicultural teams in the tournament and in their opening game they raced into the record books with a stunning 5-1 win over Italy — becoming the first team to score five goals before half-time and with Grace Geyoro the first player to score a hat-trick at a Women’s Euro. Although the scorelines for their other matches may not have been as high, they have the talent to match anyone.
Germany earned their semi-final spot with a 2-0 win over Austria 2-0, and as eight-time defending champions, they’ll be arriving in the South Midlands eager to add to their tally. But there’s huge pressure on the most successful side in Women’s European Championship history to reach the final with England at Wembley on Sunday, and we’ve seen that get to the favourites in the past.Embed from Getty Images
Germany have a strong midfield with Lena Oberdorf, Sara Dabritz and Lina Magull, who will look to gain possession of the ball and dominate this area. France will need to be well-organised and press aggressively to unsettle their rivals. Les Bleues also have attacking power and a lot of pace that can hurt their rivals, who may have been rock-solid defensively so far this tournament but conceded three to Serbia in the World Cup qualifiers in April. They will take heart from the fact the German backline is not infallible.
Germany have also been hit by a blow as the impressive Klara Buhl will miss tonight’s showdown after testing positive for Covid. Jule Brand is expected to replace the 21-year-old winger, who has made an appearance in all of her country’s games so far. Head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said: “The most important thing is Klara is feeling very well and has hardly any symptoms, that’s why we were surprised to hear she is positive. It has made us all a bit subdued. We knew it could happen and see this as our next challenge. We will try to stay in this tournament and provide some happiness for her.”
Fully-fit France have no injury concerns and should field a similar side to the one that triumphed in the quarter-finals.
Last five results (all competitions)
Germany: WWWWW France: WDWWW
Germany wins: 6 France wins: 2 Draws: 2
10/06/21: France 1 Germany 0 (Friendly)
28/02/19: Germany 1 France 0 (Friendly)
Game changer: Delphine Cascarino
It’s tricky not to simply go with the hype when choosing France’s game changer, and for good reason. Delphine Cascarino has racked up a POTM award already this tournament and has recorded the second-top fastest in-match speed, at 30.9 km/h. Her ability and pace to move beyond the dominant German midfield and make darting runs around the penalty area are exactly what France will need to penetrate the German set-up.Embed from Getty Images
Score prediction: Germany 0 France 2
Germany are the favourites as they are the only team left in the tournament that has not yet conceded a goal. However, France remain a force to be reckoned with, and if they are sharp in attack, they can be ruthless. Competing with former champions will also be playing on their minds but if they manage to keep focused in the game, we predict Cascarino and Geyoro will fire them into the glittering final.
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