International match preview: Germany v France

The defeat to Japan on Saturday once more brought numerous questions as to why the German national team continues to underperform and why all the individual quality they possess is not being harnessed into a functioning unit. The players interviewed afterwards struggled to put an explanation on it and trainer Hansi Flick was also left bemused by yet another lacklustre display and second defeat to the Samurais.

The 4-1 defeat in Wolfsburg was beleaguered Flick’s last match in charge with the DFB reacting to the mounting crisis affecting the team by sacking him on Sunday. The former Bayern coach sadly now has the unwanted record of being the only Bundestrainer to have been fired, with all the previous incumbents having left on their own volition.

Rudi Völler, Sandro Wagner and Hannes Wolf will oversee Tuesday’s friendly against France in Dortmund with the mammoth task of picking the players up and trying to inspire some sort of reaction against the World Cup runners-up and a side that have  a 100% record in their European qualifiers so far.

The speculation as to Flick’s ultimate successor will have to take a back seat for now as the Nationalmannschaft have to face the French first and avoid their abysmal run of results (World Cup and post-tournament) continuing. Japan were clearly the better side on Saturday and les Bleues represent an even bigger step up in quality, so the omens are not great for Germany.

Didier Deschamps’ side actually came within a whisker of winning the World Cup and the ‘what-if’ questions over Randal Kolo Muani’s late miss at 3-3 will haunt them for a while yet. They have however carried over their excellent World Cup form into the European qualifiers with five wins from five matches so far, and they will surely be at next summer’s finals as one of the favourites (something Germany can’t say right now).

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Like Germany they have a bevvy of top quality players playing at top European clubs, but unlike Germany they are a well-oiled unit and bring their A game to the national team game after game. They will have analysed Germany’s current failings and the prospect of facing a jittery Germany must have Kylian Mpabbé salivating.

The French are also on a very good run against Germany having not lost any of the previous six meetings (four wins, two draws). The last time Germany got one over their neighbours was back in 2014 when Mats Hummel’s header saw them to a 1-0 win in the Maracana at the quarter-final stage of the ultimately successful World Cup campaign in Brazil.

Team news:

Germany

There will surely be changes to the German line-up and probably also the formation after the performance (or lack of it) against Japan. It seems likely that the experiment with Joshua Kimmich at right back will end with the Bayern man returning to his usual central midfield role. The in-form Benjamin Henrichs is a candidate for the right back slot.

Nico Schlotterbeck could be dropped with Robin Gosens coming in, although the Union Berlin man didn’t exactly cover himself in glory as a sub against Japan.

Possible line-up: ter Stegen – Henrichs, Thiaw, Rüdiger, Gosens – Kimmich, Gündogan – L. Sané, Wirtz, Brandt – T. Müller

France

The good news for Germany is that Didier Deschamps is also likely to make changes following the win over Ireland last week, but the bad news is that the quality of replacements doesn’t weaken the French side a great deal.

Eduardo Camavinga could come in to replace his Real Madrid team mate Aurelien Tchouameni while the German defence won’t be too delighted to see Kingsley Coman on the wing instead of Ousmane Dembélé. Marcus Thuram scored as a substitute against the Irish and could start in place of Olivier Giroud. Randal Kolo Muani would also be a contender for a start.

Possible line-up: Maignan – Koundé, Upamecano, Saliba, Theo – Camavinga, Rabiot – Griezmann – Coman, Mbappé – Thuram

What they’re saying:

Germany

Rudi Völler: “Tomorrow is a one-time thing for me. I feel it’s my duty to help out in this situation. But after that I’ll try to support the new coach as best I can. Regardless of tomorrow’s game, it is important that we find a successor relatively quickly. That will be the main task.

“The most important thing for tomorrow is to improve our defensive behaviour. France is clearly the best team in Europe at the moment. They have incredibly fast players in transition. We experienced against Japan what could happen when you lose the ball carelessly. We have a few ideas in mind, but I can’t say anything more specific right now.

“We were eliminated from a World Cup in the group stage twice in a row. It’s obvious that something is wrong. However, even if it doesn’t seem like it to many people at the moment, we still have players who are incredibly creative. We have quick players. We have players who can play a successful European Championship next year. Nevertheless, France is of course the big favourite. My goal is for us to be one of the 5-8 teams that rank behind France”

Ilkay Gündogan: “The atmosphere in the team is currently a mix of sadness, frustration and disappointment. As a player, I have the feeling that I let Hansi down, to be completely honest. He was always focused, motivated and full of energy. Unfortunately, as a team, we didn’t manage to turn that into something.”

France

Didier Deschamps: “I feel sorry for Hansi Flick, he’s someone I appreciate. When results are not there, we as coaches know what to expect. The last three tournaments were disappointing. The last friendlies didn’t help the situation. There are high expectations around this team. This does not call into question the quality of the German team, and the individual potential of their players. I know they will have answers tomorrow.

“Obviously I wasn’t expecting this. He [Rudi Völler] is someone who has such a joyful character. It’s a great pleasure to meet him tomorrow. I appreciate him very much. The fact he will be on the opposite bench tomorrow will make me happy.

Antione Griezmann: “France against Germany is always a big game where there’s a lot of desire on the pitch. It’s a big rivalry. These are the games you dream of playing when you’re a kid. For me Germany’s rough patch recently is a surprise because they have a very good team. They have the players to make German football shine again. They are full of very good players, you just have to find the right formula to make it work.

“I like many German players. In addition to Florian Wirtz, I like Kimmich, he’s a bit like the general of the German team. He can play in several positions. I like Leroy Sané a lot as well, he’s a forward that I love”

Form:

Germany

09/09/23  Japan (h) 1-4 L  (Friendly)

20/06/23  Colombia (h) 0-2 L  (Friendly)

16/06/23  Poland (a) 1-0 L  (Friendly)

12/06/23  Ukraine (h) 3-3 D  (Friendly)

28/03/23  Belgium (h) 2-3 L  (Friendly)

25/03/23  Peru (h) 2-0 W  (Friendly)

France

07/09/23  Republic of Ireland (h) 2-0 W (European qualifier)

19/06/23  Greece (h) 1-0 W  (European qualifier)

16/06/23  Gibraltar (a) 0-3 W  (European qualifier)

27/03/23  Republic of Ireland (a) 0-1 W  (European qualifier)

24/03/23  Netherlands (h) 4-0 W  (European qualifier)

Last time:

The last fixture between the two nations was on the first matchday of the group stage for the European Championship finals back in June 2021. The clash in Munich’s Allianz Arena saw the French triumph 1-0 thanks to a Mats Hummels own goal in the first half. Karim Benzema had a late effort disallowed, which would have put a better gloss on the victory for the French.

Players to watch:

Germany

Aside from goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, the only player to really emerge from the Japan debacle with any credit was Leroy Sané, who scored the equaliser and at least looked a creative threat. He did become frustrated at times, but if he can harness his best form, the French defence will have worries of their own. He’ll be up against a familiar foe however in Bayern team mate Dayot Upamecano.

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France

PSG striker Kylian Mbappé should be licking his lips ahead of Tuesday’s clash having seen how Japan sliced through the German defence at times in the 4-1 loss. His pace will be a real challenge for whoever is chosen to make up the back four. No offence to the Japanese, but the French striker is a definite upgrade in terms of threat and a wobbly Germany need to beware.

About Mathew Burt 1054 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball