As we predicted, France will face Portugal in the final of the European Championships after sealing an impeccable 2-0 win over Germany in Marseille, earlier today.
They were favourites for the tie, with a boisterous home support backing them. But within minutes into the game, it was evident that Germany were going to dictate the tempo of the match. Joachim Low’s men piled on the pressure, but they were unable to break a resolute French defence, led by Blaise Matuidi in midfield.
But the turning point arrived just before half-time, as Bastian Schweinstiger was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box, forcing the referee to point to the spot. Antoine Griezmann stepped up and showed tremendous composure to fire home and put France 1-0 ahead.
After the break, Germany continued applying pressure, but another defensive mistake allowed Griezmann to score his second goal from close range, putting France 2-0 up on the night. The second goal sparked a response from Germany, and they went close on a few occassions. Joshua Kimmich’s attempt rattled against the post, before Howedes’ header was brilliantly tipped away by Hugo Lloris.
But France eventually did more than enough to sit back and hold on to secure a final berth against Cristiano Ronaldo and Co this weekend. Nonetheless, here are three players that impressed tonight!
Finding a superlative to accurately describe Griezmann is never an easy task, but after tonight, the task got a lot harder. The Atletico Madrid forward was a constant thorn for the German defence throughout the match, and scored two crucial goals that eventually helped France book their spot in the final. The first was a clinical penalty execution, against a gigantic Manuel Neuer. The second goal was all about predatory insticts, and being at the right place, at the right time.
Much of the limelight has focused on Paul Pogba, but tonight, Matuidi proved why he’s equally important to France’s style of play. As Germany launched waves after waves of attack, Matuidi’s athleticism and work rate in midfield, helped them keep a clean sheet on the night. He was all over the field, constantly attempting interceptions and tackles. Fantastic performance from the PSG man!
With Matt Hummels suspended, Howedes needed to step things up and he certainly did it. The first goal had nothing to do with him, and while he could have arguably done better for the second goal, it was probably the only blip in what was otherwise a solid performance. Unfortunately for Germany, the blip was more than enough for France to claim a win. But if you objectively analyze Howedes’ performance, you’d recall his brilliant last-ditch tackle on Olivier Giroud as well as two fantastic headers in the second half, that narrowly missed the target.