Key Battles: France vs Germany
Just how good are they?
France: They are missing Ribery and Nasri but they couldn’t care less. Valbuena and Pogba have shown that everyone’s replaceable.
Germany: Miroslav Klose, the joint leader in FIFA’s all-time World Cup goal scoring list, can’t find a spot in their starting XI.
Most likely to...
France: Have Karim Benzema score with a brilliant strike, only to see the goal being credited to someone else or being disallowed for some reason or the other.
Germany: Win the match in a penalty shootout. They have never lost a penalty shootout in the World Cup, winning four times (1982 semis vs France, 1986 quarters vs Mexico, 1990 semis vs England, 2006 quarters vs Argentina).
Any good player?
France: Paul Pogba. The 21-year-old is being touted as the next Patrick Viera by Patrick Viera himself.
Germany: Thomas Mueller. The striker has netted as many goals in this tournament as Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Why you should root for them
France: For sheer drama. How many teams can go on a strike in the middle of the World Cup? Apart from the African sides, of course.
Germany: For the love of Klose. Everyone wants to see Klose come on, score and get that record 16th goal in World Cups.
Why you shouldn't root for them
France: Because you are fans of fair play – Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland in their 2010 World Cup qualifier play-off match was not cool! The earnest Irishmen were sent home while the unscrupulous French happily played in the World Cup. In this World Cup too, striker Olivier Giroud has elbowed at least three people in the face without as much as a card being shown to him.
Germany: At the 1982 World Cup, France defender Patrick Battison was brutally challenged by West Germany’s goalkeeper Harald Schumacher. The marks on Battison’s back are still visible while Schumacher didn’t even see a card. Schumacher, now retired, thinks Germany’s current goalie, Manuel Neuer, could repeat his feat. To prevent that, Germany must exit tonight!
Offside: A non-football fact
France: The modern bikini was invented in France, by a mechanical engineer called Louis Reard.
Germany: In the state of Bavaria, beer is considered a food. The country is the second largest beer consumer.