France desperate to end Germany jinx
The French loathe the German word for 'bogey team' after two painful losses to Germany in '82 and '86
FRANCE v GERMANY
(Tomorrow, 11.59pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
France have surprised many by emerging as World Cup contenders but face their toughest test yet against nemesis Germany in a quarter-final clash of European heavyweights in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow.
For France coach Didier Deschamps, the past, heart-rending World Cup semi-final defeats by the Germans in 1982 and 1986 do not matter at all.
But, with the French media splashing the word "Angstgegner" - the German word for "bogey team" - across their front pages and broadcasts, Deschamps must conquer the fears of an entire nation if he is to restore his country's World Cup eminence.
France, who have scored 10 goals in four matches in Brazil, have already gone a long way to restoring some pride after their hapless first-round exit in 2010.
Reaching the last eight with solid teamwork has already done much to rebuild their image, but facing the Germans in a knockout game is motivation in itself.
They have only excruciating memories of their last two World Cup battles against them, losing a nerve-racking semi-final in 1982 in Spain.
After scoring twice to lead 3-1 in extra time, they conceded two goals and crashed out on penalties in what has become known as "Seville'82".
Germany goalkeeper Toni Schumacher's reckless challenge on France's Patrick Battiston, which left the latter with broken ribs, an injured vertebrae and shattered teeth, further added to the bitterness of that loss.
Four years later, it was again the Germans who killed off their World Cup dreams with a 2-0 victory in Mexico.
Deschamps has refused to talk to his players about those games, instead saying: "If my players were not born then, they were not born then. What's the point of talking about it?"
"We must not let our confidence turn into arrogance," he added.
"Players have the right to dream. Everyone can dream. But I am generally a pragmatic and realistic man. We can dream but the reality is Germany on Friday."
Deschamps, who has never lost a World Cup game both as player and coach, is more than happy to pass the favourites' tag to his opponents.
"The Germans' results in the past few tournaments have been superior to ours," added the 45-year-old.
For Germany, it has been 24 years since their third and most recent World Cup crown.
They have come close in the past two tournaments, reaching the last four but stumbled at the penultimate hurdle.
After a laboured extra-time 2-1 win over Algeria in the Round of 16, the Germans are facing mounting pressure from their fans, desperate to see an end to their title drought.
"You get games like that in a tournament and you just have to battle your way through," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
"In a tournament, you cannot always play fantastic football."
A question mark hangs over Loew's shaky defence and how it will react to its biggest test so far in the tournament, with the likes of France's Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann posing a far bigger threat than Algeria's attack.
"We have to do it better against France," Loew warned. - Reuters.
Houllier: Good to have fourth sub in extra time
The idea that a fourth substitute should be allowed in extra time should be resubmitted to the International Football Association Board (Ifab), the game's law-making body, Gerard Houllier said this morning (Singapore time).
The former France manager, who is in Fifa's technical study group, said he would support having a fourth substitute if it benefits the game.
"I think it would be a good idea... You have probably noticed at this World Cup, everything is so quick, the tempo has been so high and we have seen 29 goals scored by substitutes, a record," said Houllier.
Fifa had proposed the idea to Ifab two years ago, but did not win the 75 per cent majority vote for it to be passed into law. - Reuters.