FIFA world ranking teams number 1 and 3 meeting in the quarterfinals of the world championships. And you do not really wonder that it does remember you of the bigger FIFA picture how the groups and the group winners way have been fixed to the title. So this is undoubtedly the quarterfinal that could have been the final as well given the class of the two teams. However there have been hick-ups at display from both of them so far during the tournament. Germanys out-of-nowhere 1:1 draw with Norway when they suddenly looked quite pedestrian in the second half after being utterly dominant in the first. And even more Frances loss to Colombia which was the biggest “surprise” of the tournament so far. However both got back on track with quite impressive wins in the round of 16, Germany 4:1 against 11 wide-eyed Swedish spectators, and France 3:0 against South Korea who looked equally stunned as the Swedes did. Albeit Sweden was expected to be the much more dangerous opponent of the two.
What to expect
It is football, womens football. So we are looking forward to the game with some excitement but we wouldnt be too surprised if the ladies deliver another surprising performance as the Germans against Norway or the French against Columbia. Apart from that because the players are knowing each other well from European competitions and even some playing together their might be a deadlock in sight where they are able to cancel each other out for most of the game. Small margins might decide who gets the edge. And it might well be that the winner will be decided by the fact who gets the majority of these small edges under his belt. And as we go on in the tournament of course there are more and more games decided by the short moment of magic or the fault rather than too overwhelming dominance. Messi had his chance last year but it was Goetze who did it for the German men.
Keys to success
1. For the French: Show up with your “A” team Having won their last encounter 2:0 in last autumn in Germany really lifted their self confidence at that time and gave them believe in their strengths. And it showed how good they can be. Could be? Already struggling to find their rhythm in the warm up games going into these world championships you could not believe how bad they have played against Colombia. Too many details have gotten wrong there as underestimating their opponents, missing personal skills, missing personal willingness. But worst: A lack of team spirit. The wins against Mexico and South Korea have not been enough – far from that – to make believe they have left their problems behind now. Maybe they have been in internal team talks to get those problems sorted, maybe a lucky course of the game helps them into something – but if they do not find a way back to the brilliant performances of months ago Germany might proof to be too much for them at the moment.
2. For the Germans: Sorting the back problems. It has been strange. The German back line. Never looked overly comfortable in the group games. But when Schelin and Jakobsson came it was an impeccable performance of the center backs. However there have been strange moments in their positioning where both seemed to follow their opponents far away from their usual position. The scene were Jakobsson was on goal for 2:3 was not the only one of this kind and if a team shows more support for their front players than the Swedes did for the lonesome two it remains to be seen what happens with the huge open spaces there. A strong midfield performance still is very much key for Germany to protect their back line and the Norway game weakness was not accidental at all.
3. A clinical finish and free from errors: In front of goal is where it counts the most Interesting contrast in the back of both teams. Renard and Georges are considered two of the best center backs in the world and there are not much who would prefer the German duo over these to keep a clean sheet. You might see the opposite in goal where Bouhaddi might be seen to be not as reliable as Angerer who seems able to manage to be spot on when it comes to the events on the big stage (despite not against Ivory Coast). Apart from that there are many tight duels too close to call. Will in the form of her life Mittag make the difference or the class of LeSommer?
4. And maybe: Who has a plan B After we have seen lately Sweden unable to adapt to the game and make any efficient changes against Germany and we have seen the Netherlands unable to adapt to the game and make any efficient changes it will be interesting to see if one of the sides here is able to change tactics when they see something is not going the right way. So far 7 of 8 ko-matches have been decided by the 1:0 lead already. Only England have managed to come from behind. And probably that was less of a “Plan B” than simply the fact they had to put more efforts in their offense and driving away the bus from their own goal.
Things to watch out for:
Is Germany playing enough “German” again? Then they should find a way through. Somehow at the end. Are the German players simply on average on the more successful mindset again?
The french on the other side might need something very special and they would achieve something very special given their lack in recent years to deliver on the big occasions. It doesnt need any further explanation and nearly everybody knows it. Actually the french side since the warm up matches look more like seeking something but not really knowing for what exactly. Especially their choices of formations and changes make it difficult to see any light in the darkness. Time for a change. One day it surely will happen.
Necib and Thomis. Of course there are other players maybe more influential or better. But these are two players who are very floating in regards of their performance. France could play safe and leave both out. Maybe that would be not the worst decision at the moment. Who knows. But both are players you have to organize your team around to make them click and go. Then they can be decisive. If you try to play to bring them into good positions and they are not able to deliver you will most likely have not much fun.