Klinsmann sacked as USA coach; Bruce Arena waiting in the wings

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Jurgen Klinsmann has been sacked as coach of the USA after losing back to back matches in the World Cup qualifiers.

German Klinsmann has had a rather successful time in charge of the United States since being appointed in 2011 which saw the national side beat Mexico for the first time in Mexico. The nation also qualified from their World Cup group stage in 2014 and there had been a good feeling under Klinsmann’s reign.

But while US Soccer’s chiefs were quick to praise the German they thought it best at this stage to move on and look for another coach. Sunil Gulati the head of US soccer said: “Today we made the difficult decision of parting ways with Jurgen Klinsmann, our head coach of the US men’s national team and technical director we want to thank Jurgen for his hard work and commitment during these last five years. He took pride in having the responsibility of steering the program, and there were considerable achievements along the way.

“Many are aware of the historic victories, including leading us out of the Group of Death to the Round of 16 in the 2014 Fifa World Cup, but there were also lesser publicized efforts behind the scenes. He challenged everyone in the US Soccer community to think about things in new ways, and thanks to his efforts we have grown as an organization and expect there will be benefits from his work for years to come.

“While we remain confident that we have quality players to help us advance to Russia 2018, the form and growth of the team up to this point left us convinced that we need to go in a different direction. With the next qualifying match in late March, we have several months to refocus the group and determine the best way forward to ensure a successful journey to qualify for our eighth consecutive World Cup.”

Klinsmann’s record for the US was impressive with a win rate of 61% for competitive matches and 53% for friendlies. Altogether Klinsmann coached 98 games for the States winning 55 of those.

So who will step into his shoes? The favourite with the US media is Bruce Arena current coach at LA Galaxy and the coach of course for the US for 8 years between 1998-2006. Arena seems the perfect fit for the hot seat and is seen as something akin to a legend in American soccer.

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Germany aim to build upon excellent start to qualification campaign

Euro 2016

Current World Champions Germany started their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a commanding 3-0 away victory over Norway in Oslo.

Whilst Thomas Mueller scored twice, the 27-year-old’s Bayern Munich team mate Joshua Kimmich showed great composure to score his first international goal, as Germany delivered an accomplished performance.

In doing so Joachim Low’s side issued a strong statement of intent that they are fully equipped and focused upon reaching the 2018 finals in Russia in as efficient and serene a manner as possible.

Dominant display against Norway

Not only did Germany monopolise possession – 73.7% – against the Norwegians, whilst playing with dynamism and enterprise, but they also created a wealth of excellent goal scoring opportunities, of which Kimmich and Muller were the beneficiaries.

Furthermore a series of fine saves from Norway’s goalkeeper Rune Jarstein, who plays his club football for Hertha Berlin, prevented Germany from winning by a wider margin.

On numerous occasions the 32-year-old former Viking Stavanger player repelled fine efforts from German players, who strolled throw the game with the utmost confidence and efficiency.

Czech’s await Low’s Germany

Therefore Germany laid a solid platform upon which they can build a successful qualifying campaign, with it being their aim to continue constructing that against the Czech Republic, for whom the influential duo of Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky are no longer available following their international retirements.

In drawing their maiden qualification game 0-0 with Northern Ireland, as Cech’s predecessor Tomas Vaclik remained largely untested, Karel Jarolim’s side were neither able to play with any cohesion nor fluency.  As such they must aspire to produce a vastly improved performance in order to compete against a wonderfully balanced and talented German side.

The last time that the two nations faced one another was during qualification for Euro 2008 as the Czech Republic won 3-0 in Munich courtesy of goals from Libor Sionko, Marek Matejovsky and Jaroslav Plasil.  Of the players featuring in that game, none are still involved in either the current German or Czech international set-ups.

In contrast to the relative inexperience of Jarolim’s pool of players at international level, whereby only captain Tomas Sivok has made more than 50 appearances, with the Bursaspor defender having been capped 58 times for the Czech Republic, eight members of Low’s 23-man squad have surpassed the 50-cap mark.

Fine mix of experience and youth among German squad

Specifically Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Mario Gotze have each represented Germany on more than 50 occasions.  Given that whilst Germany’s squad is blessed with a wealth of experience, it also has a strong youthful element with home-based players such as Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Joshua Kimmich, Max Meyer, Julian Weigl all having proven themselves as capable of performing well on the international stage.

Great potential exists for Low to introduce more young players into his squad during this qualification campaign.  That is particularly the case given the emergence of a fine crop of talented young German defenders, which include Emre Can, Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rudiger, Niklas Sule and Jonathan Tah, whilst Manchester City’s 20-year-old forward Leroy Sane constitutes another excellent attacking option for Low.

Low aspires to lead Germany to another major international tournament

The 56-year-old is now amidst his sixth major international tournament qualification campaign as Germany manager.

In the role Low has an impressive record of having won 77.38% of the competitive games for which he has taken charge of Germany.

As such Low will aim to strengthen that record by guiding Die Mannschaft to victory over the Czech Republic, which would put Germany in complete ascendancy in their efforts to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, despite only having played two games.

Although by no means decisive in terms of determining the overall outcome of qualification Group C – which also contains Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland, Norway and San Marino – Germany’s game against the Czech Republic assumes great importance for both teams.

Whilst the Czech’s will seek to inject some much needed momentum into their campaign following their disappointing draw with Northern Ireland, Germany’s ambition is to secure a second successive victory and build upon the fine start they made by dismantling Norway.

German efficiency characterises Low’s managerial reign  

Ever since Low’s appointment in 2006, Germany have professed in running extremely successful qualification campaign, with that being a feat which they are more than capable of achieving again, so as to reach the 2018 World Cups finals in Russia and defend their World title.

Just 72 hours after hosting the Czech Republic in Hamburg, Germany will then travel to Hannover to play Northern Ireland, who Joachim Low’s side beat 1-0 during the group stages of Euro 2016 courtesy of a Mario Gomez goal.

Therefore although a demanding schedule awaits Germany, it is one they are extremely well equipped to manage, particularly under the expert guidance and tutelage of Low, who appears set to lead his country to another major international tournament.

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History proves a veteran striker is needed to win World Cup or European Championships

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It’s been twelve years since that dramatic day at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, when Portugal’s dream of winning the European Championship on home soil were crushed by a surprising Greek team. Greece won the 2004 final 1-0 with a goal by Angelos Charisteas, making a young Cristiano Ronaldo cry like a child.

Experience needed

However, Portugal got their redemption, as they are finally the kings of European football. The Selecao beat hosts France in the Euro 2016 final by the same score as the one in 2004: 1-0. A goal in extra time by Eder did the job for Ronaldo and his teammates, handing France the same fate: losing a European Championships final on home soil.

Maybe it had something to do with experience. Or maybe not. That 2004 Portugal team had very experienced star players, like Luis Figo and Deco. And they played 29-year-old Pauleta in attack, just like Les Bleus played 29-year-old Olivier Giroud next to Antoine Griezmann (25).

It’s an historical fact that teams who reached the final of the Euros or a World Cup this century have had at least one striker above the age of 27 starting the game. The only exception to this rule was Spain, who started a 24-year-old Fernando Torres during the Euro 2008 final against Germany.

Belgium’s problem

This seems to be a big issue for a nation like Belgium. The Red Devils, with new coach Roberto Martinez, have four strikers in their current squad: Christian Benteke (25), Romelu Lukaku (23), Michy Batshuayi (22), and Divock Origi (21). Belgium were one of the favourites to win Euro 2016 but were eliminated by Wales in the quarter-finals, suffering the same fate during the 2014 World Cup against Argentina.

Beneteke will be 27 when the 2018 World Cup arrives, meaning it would be wise for Martinez to play the Crystal Palace striker. However, the Spanish manager seems to rely on a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lukaku (then 25) as his first option.

If history repeats itself, Belgium won’t make it to the final. Unless, they play as great as the 2008 Spain team… Yeah, right.

The numbers:

European Championships 2000

France: Christophe Dugarry (28)

Italy: Marco Delvecchio (27) – Francesco Totti (23)

World Cup 2002

Brazil: Rivaldo (30) – Ronaldo (25)

Germany: Oliver Neuville (29) – Miroslav Klose (24)

European Championships 2004

Greece: Zisis Vryzas (30) – Stelios Giannakopoulos (30) – Angelos Charisteas (24)

Portugal: Pauleta (29)

World Cup 2006

Italy: Francesco Toni (29) – Luca Totti (29)

France: Thierry Henry (29)

European Championships 2008

Spain: Fernando Torres (24)

Germany: Miroslav Klose (30)

World Cup 2010

Spain: David Villa (28)

Holland: Robin Van Persie (27)

European Championships 2012

Spain: Andres Iniesta (28) – David Silva (26)

Italy: Antonio Cassano (30) – Mario Balotelli (22)

World Cup 2014

Germany: Miroslav Klose (36)

Argentina: Gonzalo Higuain (26) – Lionel Messi (27)

European Championships 2016

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo (31) – Nani (29)

France: Olivier Giroud (29) – Antoine Griezmann (25)

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Germany’s Thomas Müller rediscovers international goalscoring form

Euro 2016Form is temporary, class is permanent. 

As is frequently the case in football, highly gifted players temporarily lose form.

Whether it is a goalkeeper losing confidence in his handling, a defender misjudging tackles, a midfielder becoming complacent in possession or a striker’s goal – scoring touch deserting him, world class players can often endure frustrating spells whereby they struggle to make as positive an impact upon their team’s performance as they are capable of.

Inspirational in Germany’s comfortable victory

That is an issue which Thomas Müller had recently been experiencing for Germany, with the Bayern Munich forward undergoing a seven-game goal drought at international level, as he failed to score during his country’s Euro 2016 campaign.

Nevertheless the 26-year-old showed his unquestionable class to emphatically end that goal drought by scoring twice for Germany, to help Joachim Low’s side begin their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 3-0 win away to Norway.

After Müller ruthlessly capitalised on hesitant Norwegian defending to give Germany the lead with 15 minutes gone in the game, on the stroke of half time, he then provided an assist for Joshua Kimmich to score his maiden international goal, by playing a wonderful through ball to his Bayern Munich teammate, which the 21-year-old despatched brilliantly beyond Rune Almenning Jarstein.

The Hertha Berlin goalkeeper was beaten again on the hour mark, as Müller  scored his 34th international goal by rising to powerfully head home Sami Khedira’s fine cross.  That capped a thoroughly efficient German display, which was characterised by control and superb teamwork, as Müller played an influential role in his team dominating the game.

Continuing to build an excellent international career

As well as scoring a brace and providing a goal-scoring assist, Müller produced an immaculate all round performance, as he has so often done for his country since making his international debut during Germany’s  1-0 friendly win over Argentina in March 2010.

Subsequently in the process of amassing 79 appearances and scoring 34 goals for Germany, Müller has become one of his country’s most important players, whilst he holds a similarly revered status at club level with Bayern Munich.

Courtesy of his two goals against Norway, Müller has become Germany’s 10th top goal – scorer of all time.  Furthermore following Lukas Podolski’s retirement from international football, Müller is now his country’s leading active goalscorer.

In pursuit of Klose’s goal – scoring record

Given that Müller is just 26-years-old, possesses wonderful fitness levels and boasts an impressive international goal per game ration of 0.43, it is altogether conceivable that he could yet break Miroslav Klose’s record of 71 international goals.

Ultimately the prospect of endeavouring to achieve that represents a significant challenge to Müller but it is one that he undoubtedly possesses the potential to embrace, as proven by his wonderful return to goal – scoring form against Norway.

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Germans set to commence World Cup defense against Norway

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Current world champions Germany are set to open the defense of their title away to Norway, as Joachim Low’s side begin their quest to become the first team to win successive World Cups since Brazil achieved the feat by triumphing in the 1958 & 1962 editions of the tournament.

Fine blend of youth and experience to German squad

The 23-man German squad which Low has selected to face Norway contains 10 players who were members of the country’s 2014 World Cup triumph.  Those are Manuel Neuer, Shkodran Mustafi, Benedikt Howedes, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze.

By combining some of the players from Germany’s successful campaign in Brazil, with a group of technically gifted youngsters, which include Julien Brandt, Emre Can, Joshua Kimmich, Kevin Volland and Julian Weigl, Low aims to mastermind a successful start to his team’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Qualification campaign to test Germany’s strength

That is to consist of ten games as in addition to Norway, Germany will play double-headers against Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and San Marino, with those due to take place between now and 8 October 2017.

On that day, Germany will conclude their qualifying campaign with a home fixture against Azerbaijan.

Prior to then Low will endeavor to ensure his team amasses a sufficient number of points to automatically qualify for the finals in Russia, although achieving that constitutes a stern challenge, given the quality of Germany’s qualification opponents, one of whom are Norway.

Norway aim to end prolonged wait to participate in a major finals

Despite being relatively inexperienced in terms of their collective number of international caps, Per Mathias Hogmo’s Norwegian squad is extremely talented and contains many players who featured prominently for Norway as they narrowly missed out on qualifying for Euro 2016 by losing 3-1 on aggregate to Hungary in the play-offs.

As such determined to avenge that disappointment, Hogmo’s team embark upon their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign hopeful of progressing to a major finals for the first time since Euro 2000 when they were eliminated at the group stages.

The last time Norway qualified for a World Cup finals was 1998 when, under the guidance of Egil Olsen, they reached the second round before losing 1-0 to Italy.  In order to earn the right to play that game, Norway went through the group stage undefeated as they drew with both Morocco and Scotland, before beating Brazil 2-1.

Match of great importance to both sides

Subsequently not for some time have Norway played a game of that magnitude, with their match against Germany in Oslo being as high profile as any they have played since last participating in the World Cup finals in 1998.

Similarly the match assumes great importance to Low’s German side, as they seek to commence their World Cup defense with not only a favorable result but also performance.

Borussia Monchengladbach to begin Bundesliga season full of confidence

Euro 2016

The first round of Bundesliga fixtures for the 2016-2017 season are to be played over the course of this weekend, when two of Germany’s four Champions League representatives will play another.

Those are Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen with the pair set to meet at the former’s Stadion im Borussia-Park.

Whilst at the end of the 2014-15 Bundesliga campaign, Monchengladbach were third and Leverkusen fourth, there was a reversal of those positions last season. Specifically Leverkusen finished five points ahead of Monchengladbach and in doing so secured automatic qualification to the group stages of this season’s Champions League, along with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Schubert’s side overwhelm BSC Young Boys

Also joining the trio in the group stage of European football’s elite club competition are Monchengladbach, after Andre Schubert’s side successfully progressed from their qualifying play-off encounter against BSC Young Boys by comprehensively defeating the Swiss side 9-2 on aggregate.

In both legs of the tie Monchengladbach produced extremely assured and competent performances to completely outplay their Swiss opponents, whilst in doing so they built up a great deal of confidence ahead of the Bundesliga season.

Whilst Monchengladbach displayed control and discipline to beat BSC Young Boys 3-1 in Bern, during the return game Schubert’s team played a wonderfully expansive attacking game, which resulted in them securing a thoroughly impressive 6-1 victory.

From the outset of that, Monchengladbach showed great desire and enthusiasm to substantiate their advantage from the first leg, which they were rewarded for, as both their experienced Brazilian striker Raffael and Thorgan Hazard scored hat-trick.

Despite being highly convincing, the margin of Monchengladbach’s victory could have been wider had it not been for some inspired interventions by BSC Young boys goalkeeper Yvon Mvongo.

Monchengladbach talented players in fine early season form

In stark contrast to that, Mvongo’s Monchengladbach’s counterpart Yann Sommer was rarely tested in either game, whilst neither were the defensive trio of Andreas Christensen, Nico Elvedi and Tony Jantschke, who combined to form a strong unit in front of the Swiss international goalkeeper.

Nevertheless Monchengladbach’s concession of a goal in both legs of their tie against BSC Young Boys was attributable to moments of complacency in defence, which Schubert will strongly encourage his players to eradicate from future performances, so that they do not risk undoing the fine attacking work which they undertake.

Chief architects of that work are captain Lars Stindl, along with the wide pair of Fabian Johnson and Ibrahima Traore. Each of those three players are capable of both scoring goals and providing quality service Raffael and Hazard, who invariably spearhead Monchengladbach’s attack, although Andre Hahn is another excellent striking option available to Schubert.

Confidence high among Monchengladbach squad

As such at present the 45-year-old manager is working with an extremely talented group of players, who are full of confidence, after earning their place in the group stage of this season’s Champions League.

Prior to the commencement of that on either 13 or 14 September, Monchengladbach will play two Bundesliga games, with the first of those being against Bayer Leverkusen, which is set to be an extremely keenly contested affair.

Roma must act fast to solve defensive problem

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Roma made significant progress last season following the arrival of Luciano Spalletti. The Giallorossi stuttered through a season-wrecking winter period which cost Rudi Garcia his job. Recovery under Spalletti took Roma to the Champions League qualifiers and hopes of continued progression both at home and on the continent.

But there is one major headache approaching the new campaign. Roma already knew defensive reinforcements were required. But recent injuries have made them increasingly vital.

Antonio Rudiger’s ACL injury suffered during Euro 2016 preparations with Germany sent alarm bells through the Italian capital. The 23-year-old came into his own at the heart of the Giallorossi defence last term, stepping up in place of Leandro Castan. The Brazilian was on the mend following a brain problem, naturally a slow process.

That leaves Kostas Manolas in need of a defensive partner. Roma spurned off advances for the Greek defender and have signed Juan Jesus from Inter on loan. Castan has joined Sampdoria on loan this term, while January signing Ervin Zukanovic has moved to Atalanta.

It’s a similar situation out wide. Roma were unable to find an agreement with Paris Saint-Germain to make left-back Lucas Digne’s stay permanent and he has moved to Barcelona. Alessandro Florenzi regularly stepped in on the opposite flank and did well, but is not a natural fit. Summer signing Mario Rui was supposed to be the solution, but he too has suffered a long-term knee injury.

That leaves the Giallorossi scrambling. “His [Rui’s] injury is very costly to us because it comes in combination with that of Rudiger,” Spalletti said on Monday. “Earlier we were close to fixing our defence, but now we need to operate on it again.”

The boss confirmed Roma are on the hunt for two more defenders. But with little time to act. Thomas Vermaelen is the top central target. Tottenham’s Fazio is another option. Matteo Darmian is the main priority out wide, however Manchester United would prefer only a permanent deal as opposed to Roma’s loan proposal. That could open the door to Inter’s Danilo D’Ambrosio.

Serie A does not start for another three weeks, yet Roma are involved in the Champions League qualifiers. The capital club has attacking depth, but Spalletti will want his new players to have time to gel before those crucial matches in mid-August. Roma have misfired with late-window signings in recent seasons – for example, Zukanovic and Seydou Doumbia – and cannot afford slip-ups here.

If they do, it could well compromise the season before it has even got underway.

Deschamps delighted with France in Euro 2016 final

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France booked their place in the Euro 2016 final after beating Germany in Thursday’s semi-final clash at the Stade Velodrome, and manager Didier Deschamps was delighted with his players for finally winning against Germany in a knockout clash.

“There is quality in this German team. And when they don’t have the ball it gets even more complicated. We had the best team in the world opposite us. We had to suffer but never gave up and that’s great for me. This is a great story – the players wrote history by knocking out Germany,” he said.

France have limited time before Sunday’s final against Portugal at the Stade de France, losing one day’s preparation compared to their opposition, but Deschamps has a strong squad more than capable. The likes of N’Kolo Kante can come into the midfield if there’s fatigue from others, while Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial are further attacking options.

“We have three days before the final, it’s very short so we have to savour this victory. It’s an important step forward but the most important step is Sunday. We’re going to do everything in our power to go in to Sunday’s game in the best possible condition,” added the France manager. France go into the final as favourites given their squad and home advantage, especially after dispatching of the World champions.

It had been 58 years since France beat Germany in a knockout game, but France defender Patrice Evra believes a friendly victory in November last year helped Les Blues to believe. “As soon as we beat them in a friendly, it gave us a lift. Of course they were strong, of course they were the favourites and they had good ball possession. But we told each other we would never give up. And that’s why I’m proud of my teammates,” he said.

No side had scored past Germany in open play until the semi-final, and given their trio of attackers have scored and created 18 goals between them in the tournament, Portugal will be fearful. They haven’t been too full of goals themselves so their plan will be to try and stifle France by not leaving many gaps to be exploited. France have pace and power and the ruthless finishing in the final third hurt any team, so Portugal could find themselves blown away if not careful.

France’s front three Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet have all scored three of more goals in the tournament. Portugal’s duo Luis Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo the same. As a result, their final on the weekend should be a good contest.

Germany impressive despite Euro 2016 semi-final defeat to France

Germany suffered a 2-0 defeat to France at the Stade Vélodrome in Thursday night’s Euro 2016 semi-final, courtesy of a brace from Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann. However, it was Die Mannschaft who were left with regret over the result given the performance they put against Les Blues.

With close to 70% possession in the game, and having created more chances over the 90 minutes than their opponents, Germany manager Joachim Loew believes his men deserved more from the clash. “We were the better team. We put in a lot of effort, showed good body language, got forward and were good in one-on-ones,” he said.

The timing of the first goal Germany conceded went against them too with France scoring from a penalty on the stroke of half-time. It meant they were having to chase the game despite playing well, and surprisingly couldn’t breach the ageing France defence. “We were unfortunate to concede a penalty a minute before half-time, that was bad luck. We had our chances but didn’t score. Today we didn’t have the luck we needed,” Loew added.

Germany were without centre-back Mats Hummels, midfielder Sami Khedira and striker Mario Gomez. They lost Jerome Boateng to injury during the game too, and their substitutions failed to swing the game their way. While dominant in the second-half, Germany could breach the impressive Hugo Lloris in the France goal. Despite the likes of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller coming within inches of levelling the game, somehow France held out.

“Today we were better than the French but for the goals and result. The side did everything I told them, showed a lot of courage so there’s nothing to reproach them for. This was a good tournament for us. I haven’t seen too many errors from us. Overall, we have a great side. We tried everything in the second half. We put them under big pressure and we had chances towards the end. But this is football,” Loew admitted.

Germany were joint-favourites with France to win the tournament ahead of their semi-final clash, but their absences from the squad saw Les Blues being much more fancied. And so it proved with the attacking threat of Didier Deschamps powerful side getting one over the World champions. Germany didn’t have a focal point going forward and it meant their attacks had to be better constructed. In truth, poor finishing cost Germany at the Stade Vélodrome, while France’s defence deserves more credit than they’ve been given.

Brilliant Griezmann inspires France to Euro 2016 final

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France are in the Euro 2016 final and will face Portugal on Sunday after defeating Germany 2-0 thanks to two Antoine Griezmann goals.

The opener at the death of the first half was a penalty- but it was a controversial one as Patrice Evra’s header in the German area was adjudged to touch Bastian Schweinsteiger’s hand, it did but was it a harsh decision? Man of the moment Griezmann was up against probably the best goal keeper in the world in Manuel Neuer, Griezmann’s shot sent the German the other way and France erupted.

Germany went in at half time a goal down but just how this came to be will take a lot of soul searching from within the team. Because they quite simply dominated the first half. Germany were irresistible, near magnificent, closed down their opponents and were making France look very ordinary. There seemed like there would be only one winner. But the penalty and at the time it came seemed to wind the Germans some.

The second half started much as the first half had been- with Germany seeking possession, but it was becoming all to evident what their problem was: They had in this tournament no killer instinct and no striker. In previous competitions going back to when they last won the Euro’s in 1996 they could count on Oliver Bierhoff, Miroslav Klose dominated the front line in the 2000′s and Thomas Muller was mostly quite frankly superb. They still had Muller and at Euro 2016 he was mostly quite frankly abysmal. Strange from coach Joachim Low that he refused to part ways with a striker that simply wasn’t having a good tournament, the ball was his enemy and his gift of the gab had clearly left him. Germany had no answer- and then they did the unthinkable and played like an amateur Sunday team in defence to gift the French and Griezmann the second goal which killed the game off.

As for France they grew more confident and bold as the game went on- finding more space in midfield and controlling it too. Paul Pogba shone, Patrice Evra rolled back the year’s, Hugo Lloris IS the goal keeper of this tournament and made some vital saves as Germany threw everything at the French in the final frantic moments and Samuel Umtiti the 22 year old Lyon player was an absolute monster.

France will face the other Ronaldo at the Stade de France in a major final just like they did when they hosted the 1998 World Cup. That night they played against a Brazilian who should have been in a hospital bed not on a football pitch. On Sunday they will face a player on top of his game. For tonight the Stade Velodrome in Marseille and indeed the whole country of France is awash in the tri colours, Viva France!