Germany can draw on Brazil rout to offset home advantage
By Mitch Phillips
MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - In the history of football there has been no more devastating nullification of supposed home advantage than Germany's 7-1 humbling of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals, so playing France in Marseille holds no fears for the world champions.
That astonishing result in Belo Horizonte, particularly the opening 30-minute five-goal blitz that left the world aghast, underlined Germany's unique mental strength and belief in their own ability whatever the opposition or circumstances.
Their last European title also came after beating the hosts at the semi-final stage, though their penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley 20 years ago was a more nail-biting affair.
Toni Kroos, who scored two of the early goals and was man of the match in the Brazil demolition job, sensed that France might be similarly disadvantaged by the weight of expectation on Thursday.
"We have seen the wave of enthusiasm for them but with that comes pressure and maybe we can use that against them," he told a news conference at Marseille's Stade Velodrome a little over 24 hours before the second semi-final.
"We have a lot of respect for France. They have improved through the tournament and have great individual quality, but we don't fear them."
Coach Joachim Loew tried to play down the significance of the World Cup semi-final.
"That was a constellation that won't appear in a semi-final again," he said.
"The Brazilians were shocked when they conceded two or three in a few minutes," Loew added.
"France are a lot more solid defensively than Brazil were two years ago so really there's not too much we can get out of that game two years ago."
Loew confirmed that, subject to him coming through a final training session unscathed, midfielder and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger would start the match.
"It's not so easy to replace the likes of Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez so we need his experience for this type of game," he said
"If he's not fit enough to last we have options to replace him during the game but from what I saw against Italy he showed that he's got enough strength to last the game."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)