France 1-0 Germany: Hummels own goal the difference in heavyweight clash
MUNICH, GERMANY - JUNE 15: Kylian Mbappe of France shakes hands with Didier Deschamps, Head Coach of France following victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group F match between France and Germany at Football Arena Munich on June 15, 2021 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Kai Pfaffenbach - Pool/Getty Images)

France’s Euro 2020 campaign got underway as Didier Deschamps’s side travelled to the Allianz Arena to take on Joachim Low’s Germany in the first French game in the “group of death.”

Story of the match

The opening minutes of the tie marked a cagey affair where both sides fought for midfield dominance. Ngolo KantePaul Pogba and Adrian Rabiot rivalled Tony KroosIlkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz in their separate respective systems. 

One of the big talking points for the French in this tournament was the inclusion of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. The Los Blancos front man was a shock addition to the 26 man French squad and lined up in this tie alongside Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.

Les Blues took the lead in the 20th minute of the tie when Mats Hummels hammered the ball into his own net as Luca Hernandez’s thumped pass ricocheted off the shin of the Dortmund Centre Back. The move started from a delicious crossfield pass from Manchester United’s midfielder Paul Pogba who found his Left Back in Acres of space on the edge of the box. 

Germany dominated possession in the moments after the goal with Tony Kroos shooting off target with two free kicks outside the box. Ilkay Gundogan enjoyed ownership of the ball alongside Kroos as Low’s side searched for an equaliser. 

The two sides went into the break after an underwhelming display from both sets of attackers. The midfield battle was where the main talking points arose and neither team managed to stamp their authority on the game. Pogba’s pass to Luca Hernandez made the difference and created the chance from which the goal was scored from. 

Despite scrappy moments in the first period, the French midfield created some of the better opportunities and linked up with their attack much more efficiently, Bringing the likes of Griezmann and Mbappe into the game and kickstarting attacks. 

Adrian Rabiot and his side began the second half very brightly with the Juventus man striking Manuel Neuer’s near post early on. Germany responded to this dominance well just minutes later as Serge Gnabrystruck just over the bar inside the box.

The game opened up as the half progressed and, with this happening, Germany found their feet, creating some chances which were fine margins away from levelling the score at the Allianz. 

Kylian Mbappe thought he had doubled the French advantage in the 66th minutes curling the ball into the far corner of Neuer’s goal however, the linesman spotted the PSG man in an offside position in the build-up, ruling it out and the score remaining at 1-0.

Germany stepped up their attempts to rescue as result with 20 minutes remaining as Timo Werner and Leroy Sané entered the field, bolstering the attack.

France had shouts for a penalty late on in the second half after Mbappe outpaced Hummels. looking set to shoot and make it 2-0, Mbappe took aim however, the defender made a commendable last-ditch challenge, taking the ball but also catching the man. Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande deemed the challenge fair and, let the game continue.

Karim Benzema had the ball in the back of the net in the final moments of the game however, once again, the officials deemed Mbappe to be offside in the build-up. A VAR review was displayed showing the margins to be tight but nevertheless offside. 

Didier Deschamps introduced Corentin Tolisso to the action in the final five minutes of the game, replacing Benzema on his return to the national team in an effort to sure up the midfield and soak up the German pressure. 

Despite Germany’s late efforts, it wasn’t enough to beat the French as Mats Hummel’s scrappy own goal remained the only score of the night, sending Les Blues level with Portugal on three points, joint top of group F. 

Takeaways

Germany lacking clinical edge in final third

Les Blues midfield very much outshone the German midfield regarding quality however, in the second half of the game, Tony Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan enjoyed knocking the ball around the park, putting some of their teammates in advanced positions. The one thing lacking with this side however, was the composure and quality in the final third of the pitch. 

Not enough clear cut chances were created and, even though Rafa Varane and Presnel Kimpempe defended admirably, Germany will need to find those moments of quality in their remaining games if they have any hopes of progressing in this tournament. 

French Counterattack shows promise

With the German’s possession in the second period of the game, Didier Deschamps’s side sat back and utilised France’s pace and passing ability to counter attack and ruthlessly work their way up the pitch. 

Despite none of these counter attacks resulting In goals, the fine margins of offside ruled out two strikes on Tuesday night so, if these fine margins are corrected and France get more comfortable with counter attacking, it could become a force to be reckoned with. The passing ability of Paul Pogba combined with the brains, pace and finishing ability that Griezmann, Mbappe and Benzema Possess come together to create an incredible combination that most definitely makes France the favourites to win the tournament. 

Looking ahead to Budapest 

France travel to the Puskas Arena on the 19th June to face bottom of the group Hungary. It would be expected for players to be rested and rotated for this game as Didier Deschamps looks ahead to a more important tie vs Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal on June 23rd.

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