Euro 2016: Germany vs France - 5 players to watch out for
Looking at 5 players who will make a difference in tonight's semi-final between France and Germany
The second semi-final of Euro 2016 kicks off at 12:30 A.M. IST on Friday. After Portugal confirmed their spot in the finals, the whole world is waiting anxiously to see who will join them for the final showdown on Sunday.
Germany will be on cloud nine coming into this match, having broken a longstanding jinx against Italy, in their quarter-final match up. After dominating for the major part of the match, a moment of madness from Jerome Boateng brought the Italians back into the match. A nerve-wracking penalty shootout ensued, and despite being on the verge of losing several times, the Germans held their nerve and emerged victorious after the 9th kick.
France emerged as strong contenders for the Euro title, after an emphatic statement of intent against minnows Iceland, the tournament’s Cinderella story, in the quarterfinals. An emphatic 5-2 victory, with swashbuckling performances from their attacking trio of Griezmann, Giroud and Payet will see France go into this match with a lot of confidence. Let’s take a look at 5 players to keep our eyes on for tonight’s clash:
#1 Manuel Neuer:
The German shot-stopper cum stand-in captain added to his cult hero status recently. The hero of the penalty shootout in the quarterfinals, Neuer played a crucial role in keeping Germany alive in the shootout when they looked down and almost out.
Saves from Bonucci and then Darmian, who was the unfortunate last taker for Italy, meant Germany had vanquished their eternal ghost, in the Azzurri. Neuer did not have much to do during the course of normal time, but he once again put his sweeper-keeper best on display and made a number of crucial interceptions.
Neuer will once again have to don the role of an extra defender behind his backline, as the French team will rely on quick passing and through balls behind the German defence to utilise the blistering pace of Antoine Griezmann and co. Neuer’s role becomes especially important in this regard, as the German defence will be weakened in the absence of Mats Hummels.