The quarter final stage of the FIFA World Cup would start tomorrow with Germany vs France.
The clash of the two European powerhouses is billed to be one of the most mouth watering encounters as each would try to establish their supremacy over the other. Both France and Germany have had a similar journey to the quarter finals.
Starting the tournament on a high beating Portugal 4-0, the German performance has gone down several notches as the tournament progressed. Instead of hitting top gear they laboured their way past USA and Algeria. France too after beating Switzerland 5-2 drew Ecuador 0-0 and had to work hard to beat Nigeria 2-0.
The French have no injuries or suspensions to worry about. France have quietly gone about their business with no hype surrounding their squad post the exit of Franck Ribery. Paul Pogba has been excellent for Les Blues but Karim Benzema has looked out of sorts after his great showing in the first two group games. Coach Didier Deschamps has ingrained a problem-solving ability in this team. France have shown a very important quality that big teams have – patience. They have slowly worn out teams and played their best football in the second half of games. They have done enough in every game to get the desired result and that is the most dangerous quality of this side.
Thomas Muller has been the main source of goals for Germany in the tournament. Their midfield has generally been solid throughout the tournament and it remains their biggest strength. Mats Hummels remains a doubt for the game against France. His replacement, Shkodran Mustafi has been ruled out of the World Cup with an injury he picked up against Algeria. What would be more worrying is that Bastian Schweinsteiger limped off the game against Algeria, holding his troubled knee in extra-time.
What to watch out for: With two giants of Europe, coming head to head, the first quarter-final promises to be a cracking affair. Both teams have glaring weaknesses at the back and are flamboyant in attack. With such attacking flair on both sides, this match has all the makings of a classic.
Paul Pogba: He is genuinely good and it is evident from the fact that the 21 year old midfielder is highly sought after. He assisted a goal for Benzema in France’s 5-2 victory over Switzerland. He also gave France the lead in the 79th minute with a brilliant header against Nigeria. He is a menace for opposing defenders and a constant threat in the box.
Karim Benzema: He had a brilliant game against Switzerland. The Real Madrid striker has more shots in the World Cup than anybody else with nearly 80% of them on target. And he also has three goals so far. This proves how much of a threat he is to the opposition defence.
Thomas Muller: He is known for his frequent scoring abilities. A hattrick against Portugal, he already has four goals in this tournament and nine in nine World Cup games. He is ready to retain his golden boot award it seems!
Miroslav Klose: He may be on the wrong side of thirties but he has been Germany’s saviour on more than one occasion. The all time top scorer of the World Cup doesn’t need much introduction.
The viewers are in for a flamboyant footballing display. It is very difficult to predict such a high voltage game. I believe shootouts might be necessary to separate the two sides. If forced to really choose between the two, I will go with the French.