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PREVIEW | Germany vs France

Two of the leading contenders for next year’s World Cup in Russia go head-to-head on Tuesday night as world champions Germany take on France. Although international friendlies perhaps provide an opportunity for experimentation, die Mannschaft will be keen to lay down a marker ahead of their title defence and will seek a positive result at the RheinEnergie Stadion in Köln.

In order to do so, Germany will need to produce a more dynamic performance than the one that was produced in the goalless draw at Wembley against England on Friday night. Germany looked impressive on occasions while in possession against the Three Lions, carving out some great openings. However, it was difficult to escape the feeling that they looked in first or second gear in this game against a depleted England side. The match against Les Bleus should provide a much sterner test.

Team News and Tactics

With such a strong squad to choose from, it would seem likely that there will be a number of changes for both sides.

In the build up to this double-header, Joachim Löw admitted in his press conference that there are some “irreplaceable” players who will make the plane to Russia if fit. Of those that fall into this category, definitely starting tomorrow will be Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos who was previously doubtful to play due to a stomach bug. They are likely to replace Ilkay Gundogan and Mesut Ozil who started at Wembley on Friday.

Jerome Boateng has returned to Bayern Munich with a muscle strain. Kevin Trapp will start in goal in place of Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen with Manuel Neuer a long-term absentee.  Sandro Wagner will probably get the opportunity to impress Löw in place of Timo Werner. Julian Brandt is likely to start this game, possibly at the expense of Leroy Sane. Mario Götze will be desperate to get back into international set-up and may well replace Julian Draxler.

Didier Deschamps’ side are unbeaten in the last six matches, having won their last three, including the 2-0 home win over Wales on Friday. They, like Germany will look forward to a sterner test than they faced in qualifying for Russia. Definitely missing for France will be Olivier Giroud who has returned to Arsenal after sustaining a thigh injury in their last game. He may well be replaced by Anthony Martial who has not started a game for Les Blues since September 2016. At the back Steve Mandanda looks to continue in goal in the absence of first choice Hugo Lloris. There could well be a start for Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane if he is passed fit. Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso started Friday’s game in central midfield as did winger Kingsley Coman. Given the depth of talent at Deschamps’ disposal it could be that they are replaced for this encounter. Antoine Griezmann, back in the goals after a slow start to the season for Atletico Madrid is expected to start along with PSG wonderkid Kylian Mbappé.

Danger Men

Julian Brandt (Germany) –The 21-year-old Bayer Leverkusen is another player off the seemingly endless production line of German talent. He has already accrued 13 caps in his career thus far and will be looking to add to this tally after not starting in Friday’s match at Wembley.  Having made his debut at just 17 years of age the 6’ speed merchant has already made over 100 appearances for his club. Attracting the attention of Europe’s elite clubs, we could well be seeing Brandt elsewhere next season.

Kylian Mbappé (France) – The Parisian teenager’s rise over the last 12 months has been meteoric. Having broken into AS Monaco’s side during 2016/17, his performances were so good that he earned a national team call up in March this year and has remained in the squad ever since. It also resulted in a loan move to PSG which will see them pay up to €180 million in return for his services. His pace, trickery and vision already make him one of the world’s leading players.

Prediction

These are very tough for international friendlies. Whoever Löw and Deschamps opt for, there will be some fantastic talent on show regardless, all keen to demonstrate that they deserve to make the plane to Russia. The attacking prowess of both teams means that both will back themselves to score. Germany have lost their last two games against their opponents and will be looking to avenge their Euro 2016 semi-final defeat. Home advantage in the RheinEnergie Stadion should be enough to see them to a narrow victory.

Germany 2-1 France

By Jonathan Shelley.

 

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