1. Germany Still Aren’t Firing, But They Won’t Care
Did Germany peak too early in this competition?
The memories of their display against Portugal in their opening game are seemingly fading with each match, but they have developed that typically ruthless, and yes, stereotypical resoluteness that they always seem to display in tournaments. All thoughts of entertaining are now over. It’s all about winning now.
2. Raphael Varane’s Weakness Turned Out To Be The Crucial One
The build-up to this clash featured a focus on the seven or so German players who had apparently come down with the ‘flu in the days leading up to the game, but crucially it was weakness on the other side which was exposed.
Defender Raphael Varane was forced to spend a night in hospital with dehydration following France’s 2-0 win over Nigeria in the last-16, and whilst it’s not clear whether Germany knew that, they certainly targeted him in the early stages, none more so than when Mats Hummels completely outmuscled him for the crucial early goal.
3. Joachim Löw Was Right To Make Brave Decisions
After the underwhelming performance against Algeria, we mentioned here that Germany boss Joachim Löw might want to change things up for this clash against a technically better French side.
With the selection of Miroslav Klose, the repositioning of Philipp Lahm to right-back and the dropping of Per Mertesacker he did just that, and whilst the changes didn’t deliver the most exciting, fluid Germany performance it did make them much more solid, something which they drastically needed to be following that Algeria game.
4. Loic Remy’s Pace Should Have Been Utilised Earlier
Didier Deschamps turned to Loic Remy from the bench in the 73rd minute, but he really should have come on earlier.
Olivier Giroud’s poor performance against Nigeria and his general lack of movement made it the right decision not to turn to the Arsenal man until very late on, but after they got in behind the German defence on several occasions in the first half, Deschamps really could have brought Remy on at half-time to try and pin their opponents back. If only he’d been braver.
5. France Can Be Proud Of Their World Cup
Four years ago France exited South Africa in disgrace, but at least here they left the tournament having shown what they can do.
A group of players written off by many before the tournament produced some excellent football in their opening two matches, only to somewhat run out of steam against better opponents.
There is plenty there for Deschamps to build on though, and evidence that the French will be serious contenders when they host the European Championships in two years’ time.