After hosts France beat Germany in second EURO semi final we are slowly coming to conlusion of what once was the toughest football tournament in the world. Prior to the game France had quite clear startng line up while Joachim Loew had to make som e hard decisions due to suspensions and injuries.
Since Mario Gomez was injured he had no striker and decided to leave on bench Goetze while Thomas Mueller took most advanced spot in 4-2-3-1 formation. Khedira was out as well and Loew opted for Emre Can instead of Weigel while Hoewedes took the place of Hummels. The biggest problem for Loew was no proper striker in the squad and Khedira’s replacement. However, with Mueller up front Loew was confident he could create chances for others or himself. Style of play was changed since Gomez is less mobile but bigger threat in the air while Can took the role of coming from deep and adding to aerial power in absence of tall striker.
As the game started France came out as if they are going to tear apart Germany but five minutes were enough for Loew’s team to take controll on the pitch. They didn’t differ from their overall approach during the tournament. Plan was to get high, compress the opposition and then to create overload either by passing and movement or to switch the point of attack. Once France didn’t bother to press high, Die Mannschaft had little trouble bringing football forward and compressing France into their own half.
Above you see a prototype of modern center back as Boateng is entering his midfield line to create a spare man. Advancing full backs are always creating an option on the wing, but what Loew preferes is overload in midfield which is allowed once Boateng enters the zone unopposed. He has number of options infront and Schweinsteiger with Kroos on his sides who can support him if he gets closed down. However, that isn’t preferred option. Actual plan is for Mueller to drag away Coscielny who leaves a gap for Draxler to get in and receive the ball.
France had great trouble stipping these passes through the middle and were only lucky not to get punished. You can see below how french failed to cope with their opponents roaming through their zones of responsability. Oezil is free on the ball and has an easy pass to Mueller who is coming to receive the pass. Before the move is over Die Mannschaft has created an overload on Payet and Mueller passes quick ball to flank for Kimmich who can go one on one with Patrice Evra and look for cut back, cross or recycle the possession with Oezil again.
Emre Can had an important role here as, while Oezil looked to drop deeper, Can was taking his position ready for run into the box replacing Gomez as an aerial threat in case his team mates chose to cross the ball. Despite numerous passes through French defensive lines, Germany failed to get anything out of their domination in the first half. One individual mistake from experienced Schweinsteiger gave Griezmann opportunity to score and he took it happily.
Germany had to be very disappointed going into the dressing room as they controlled the match and, while they didn’t create any extraordinary chances, France wasn’t any better. Start of second half was the same as the first with France pushing early on and then getting compressed in their half again.
While without the ball, Germany was, unlike France, trying to press high and disturb French transition into the middle third. It worked reasonably well but apart occasional break, French were always ready to get back and cover. Germany didn’t change their approach as they must have been fairly confident they will score with all the possession. However, another individual mistake, this time from Kimmich who carelessly lost the ball in his own area, essentially ended the game.
French kept to their feeble defending that Germany wasn’t able to break mainly due to lack of any inspiration from Mueller or Oezil and some great defending from new Barcelona star Samuel Umtiti.
As time went on Germany was ever more desperate since nothing they did went in, and France was happy to override its own midfield and ping direct long balls to Griezmann who was kind of player Germany missed to make this trully classic match.
If you look above you can see Fraance mainly attacked down left without trying to involve Pogba or Matuidi in the center. Deschamps put all his faith in Griezmann – Giroud partnership and got it right. Germany will be heavily disappointed with Mueller who was completely lost between French center backs.
To conclude, what Germany was lacking was an inspired player that France had in Griezmann for whole tournament. Their defending was apalling at times but theere was no one there who was able to punish it. In the end, they were collectively punished by elimination. Was Loew able to do something to overturn result? Not really, Germany had sound plan and executed it reasonably, just as French did. They didn’t have any luck though, and as they say were I come from, it is better to be born without a dick than without luck.