HOSTS France have pretty much cruised into the last four and now face their toughest test.
There’s no doubt in my mind France have been Euro 2016’s best performers but conceding two goals against Iceland highlighted defensive deficiences we knew about pre-tournament.
Sure, those goals were conceded when the quarter-final was won but it’s clear France can be got at down the flanks.
I also have no doubt Germany will make it as tough as possible for the hosts in tonight’s semi-final in Marseille.
But with home advantage – and as I have them on my anteposts – I’m tipping France to qualify and hopefully triumph in 90 minutes.
Germany exorcised their ghost of Italy in the semi-finals but at a cost with Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira injured and Mats Hummels while Bastian Schweinsteiger is a doubt.
Shkodran Mustafi will replace Hummels and Liverpool’s Emre Can is set to be thrown in at the deep end in midfield but it’s Gomez who will be the biggest loss with boss Joachim Low thinking about playing Mario Gotze as a false No.9. Gomez is the only German to score more than once in France and with Thomas Muller misfiring you have to wonder who will pose the biggest threat for Low’s men.
All these changes weaken the Germans and I’m on France at to make the Final at 9-10 with Ladbrokes. They should do it in normal time and that pays 9-5 at Ladbrokes and bet365.
France are unbeaten in their last 17 major tournament games played on home soil, winning 15 and drawing two. Their last defeat was in July 1960 against Czechoslovakia.
Didier Deschamps will be boosted by the return of Leicester star N’Golo Kante while goals have been plentiful from attacking trio Olivier Giroud – nine goals in 10 games – Antoine Griezmann and Dmitri Payet. And of course they have Paul Pogba who has been brilliant at times.
Picking a first scorer isn’t easy but with Hummels out and Griezmann possibly playing deeper Giroud is favoured at 6-1 at BetBright. Griezmann is 7-1 with Payet 17-2.
Most bookies can’t split the sides with Germany 2-1 at 888sport and the draw 11-5 with boylesports.
It should be an open and exciting game and both to score appeals at 11-10 with William Hill as does France to score 2+ at 2-1 with William Hill.
France to qualify
France to score 2+
Giroud to score first
Both teams to score