France v Germany Preview

Quarter-Final | Friday July 4, 2014 | Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro | 18:00




The first World Cup 2014 quarter-final takes place in Rio on Friday evening with an all European affair as France take on Germany.

To Win (90mins)
France 2/1
Draw 9/4
Germany 14/10

FRANCE

France breezed through the group stage, clinching their place in the knockout rounds with wins over Honduras (3-0) and Switzerland (5-2) before sealing top spot with a 0-0 draw against Ecuador.

Those were not the strongest of performances but in the last-16 France looked impressive and kept a third clean sheet of the tournament with a 2-0 win over Nigeria.

The French had to work hard against the Super Eagles who were well and truly in the game until the final quarter. They had to wait 79 minutes for the breakthrough and then made it 2-0 at the death when Nigeria were out on their feet.

Karim Benzema scored three goals in the first two group matches but hasn't found the net since. Performances have already banished the painful memory of a group stage exit in South Africa 2010 and the focus is on taking another step towards the final which the French last contested in 2006.

Standing in their way next up is another European heavyweight. Didier Deschamps has to give up on the idea of Benzema starting down the left and Olivier Giroud playing striker.

For one, Benzema is a centre forward and playing him on the left means Antoinne Griezmann has to be left out. But statistics clearly point out that the Real Madrid striker is most effective through the middle. He is clinical, fast and scoring goals so there is no point in sticking him out wide.

Benzema before 60 minutes against Nigeria when out wide: one chance created, zero shots, one cross, zero take-ons and not a single aerial duel, 71% passing.

After Griezmann came on and Benzema shifted to striker: three shots, three take-ons, one cross, 80% passing.

Mamadou Sakho will likely return to the squad in place of Laurent Koscielny after missing the round of 16 match against Nigeria, but it will be in no way due to Koscielny’s performance. The Liverpool man adds that extra bit of steel and leadership in the heart of the defence. 

GERMANY

With Monday's 2-1 round of 16 win over Algeria, Germany earned a spot in the quarter-finals for a 16th consecutive World Cup.

Andre Schurrle scored in the 92nd minute of extra-time to give Germany the game's first goal, before Mesut Ozil extended the lead to 2-0 in the 120th minute, essentially punching a ticket to the quarter-finals.

However, Algeria's Abdelmoumene Djabou found the back of the net shortly after Ozil, and the Desert Foxes surprisingly mustered one final scoring chance.

Once a Madjid Bougherra header landed safely in the hands of German keeper Manuel Neuer, the Germans could finally breathe a sigh of relief. As consistent as the Germans have been, their recent history at the Cup has been defined by near misses.

After winning the tournament in 1990, Germany bowed out in the quarter-finals in both 1994 and 1998. 2002 brought a second-place finish in South Korea and Japan, while both the 2006 and 2010 Cups saw the Germans finish in third.

Things will only get tougher in the next round, as the Germans have to face a tricky French side that defeated Nigeria 2-0 on Monday.

Thomas Muller had an outing to remember against Portugal bagging his first hat-trick at the finals. His coach believes the unpredictable nature of his game has contributed a lot to his success.

Muller is probably the toughest player to mark which was evident in the first match and he is more than capable of troubling the French defence.

Ozil had a brilliant game against Algeria and is surely in the crop of best players on show in Brazil. Joachim Low’s faith in the midfielder is immense and he will be looking to repay some of that with another fine showing against a good French side.

Betting Prediction: DRAW - BTTS 7/2
This will be a difficult test for these sides as they have both been impressive in getting to the quarter-finals. The Germans are slight favourites at 27/20 while Les Bleus are priced at 19/10. With so many similarities in how these teams have come through their respective groups and round of 16 matches they really do look hard to separate here. The draw with both teams to score is tipped. 

Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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