Date: July 7, 2016
Result: Germany 0 France 2
France: Griezmann pen 45, 72
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Hosts France will play Portugal in the Final of Euro 2016 next Sunday at Stade de France after Antoine Griezmann fired them to a 2-0 win over Germany in Marseille.
In the most exciting game of the tournament, the host nation gained revenge for defeat to Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when a Mats Hummels header had been enough to take Germany into the semi-finals. Two years on, this is a far superior French side, powered by Paul Pogba and given a thrilling cutting edge by Griezmann and Dmitri Payet.
In contrast, the world champions were undone by uncharateristically poor defending. Mistakes by senior Germany players – a handball by captain Bastian Schweinstiger and poor handling of a cross by keeper Manuel Neuer – led directly to both French goals. Yet Germany had largely controlled the first half until France won a late penalty, converted by Griezmann, and had played some of their best football of the tournament.
Both teams had responded to the intense atmosphere in the Velodrome with a frenetic start and France enjoyed the better of the early exchanges. Griezmann, played in by Blaise Matuidi, danced past two German defenders but his quick feet were not matched by the pace of his shot, which was palmed away by the diving Neuer.
Germany weathered the initial storm and soon assumed dominance. Schweinsteiger was deployed in a very deep role, almost as a third centre-back, which allowed the German full-backs to push right on and pin France back. The host nation, despite fierce backing from the Marseille crowd, struggled to get out of their own half. Yet for all their first-half possession, Germany could not convert any of their chances. Hugo Lloris puched away Emre Can’s miscued volley and then turned over Schweinsteiger’s curling shot. A mistake by Matuidi let in Thomas Muller, but Germany’s number 13, playing as a centre-forward in place of the injured Mario Gomez, could not find the power to beat Lloris.
When France did break out of their own half, they did so with speed, via Griezmann and Payet. The pair combined intelligently on the left hand side of the area, but Griezmann flashed his shot into the side netting. Then Benedikt Howedes produced a smart tackle to deny Olivier Giroud as he closed in on goal, as France ended the half stronger.
Then, despite all the German possession, France won a corner in injury-time. Schweinsteiger challenged Patrice Evra with his right arm above his head. It was a harsh call for a penalty, which converted by Griezmann to put the host nation ahead on the stroke of half-time.
German hopes took a dent when Boateng, their best defender, was injured. He hobbled off, and Germany did not get back in the game. In contrast, Samuel Umtiti, playing only his second international, excelled for France at the other end.
The arrival of N’Golo Kante, on for Payet, allowed other French midfielders to push forward and Paul Pogba took full advantage of a slip by Joshua Kimmich in the German area. The Juventus midfielder sent in a cross that Neuer, under pressure from Giroud, could only push into the path of Griezmann, who stabbed the ball home for France’s second.
Germany responded through Kimmich, who shot against a post, and Julian Draxler, whose free-kick sailed just wide. A brilliant save point-blank Lloris denied Kimmich in injury-time. By now, though, the French celebrations in the Stade Velodrome were in full swing.
The penalty awarded to France in first-half injury time. Schweinsteiger, playing a record 38th match at a major finals, was harshly judged to have handled. But his arm was in an “unnaturally high” position as he challenged Patrice Evra.
Man of the match:
Antoine Griezmann scored twice in a game for the second time in the tournament. The Atletico Madrid forward scored the controversial penalty and then grabbed France’s second midway through the second half.
Matter of fact:
Nine of the 22 starters played in the English Premier League last season.
Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger was penalised for a deliberate handball in much the same way as team-mate Jerome Boateng had been in the quarter-final against Italy.
Attempts on target
01 Manuel Neuer
03 Jonas Hector
04 Benedikt Howedes
07 Bastian Schweinsteiger (20 Leroy Sane 79)
08 Mesut Ozil
11 Julian Draxler
13 Thomas Muller
14 Emre Can (19 Mario Gotze 67)
17 Jerome Boateng (02 Shkrodran Mustafi 61)
18 Toni Kroos
21 Joshua Kimmich
Starting formation: 4-2-3-1
Neuer – Kimmich, Boateng, Howedes, Hector – Can Schweinsteiger – Ozil, Kroos, Draxler – Muller
01 Hugo Lloris
03 Patrice Evra
07 Antoine Griezmann (06 Yohann Cabaye 90)
08 Dimitri Payet (05 N’Golo Kante 71)
09 Olivier Giroud (10 Andre-Pierre Gignac 77)
14 Blaise Matuidi
15 Paul Pogba
18 Moussa Sissoko
19 Bacary Sagna
21 Laurent Koscielny
22 Samuel Umtiti
Starting formation: 4-2-3-1
Lloris – Sagna, Koscielny, Umtiti, Evra – Pogba, Matuidi – Sisssoko, Griezmann, Payet – Giroud
Germany: Can 35, Schweinsteiger 45, Draxler 50
France: Evra 43, Griezmann 75
Referee: Nicola Rizzola (Ita)