Football

Love and hate

As Europe's football powerhouses prepare to meet at the Maracana, the contrasting mood in the two camps couldn't be more striking. 
NEIL HUMPHREYS speaks to journalists from both countries to find out how the Germans and French feel about their nations' progress in Brazil

ANGRY GERMANS

Thorsten Mesch, German TV broadcaster with Sport 1

"The German media are never happy with the way the team are playing. The desire to become world champions is so great in Germany that we just can't tolerate failure.

"But the team's defence is weak, they don't push forward to support the midfield and attack. We have Philipp Lahm playing in midfield. Back in Germany, everyone is saying Lahm must play in defence if we are to have any chance.

"Mesut Oezil is another big problem for us. He is not being played in the right position. He plays on the right and then he shifts to the left, but his best position for Germany has always been in the centre, but Joachim Loew changes his tactics.

"He doesn't retreat enough, he doesn't defend, but it's not really his fault because he's not playing in his natural, creative position. His form isn't great, but he is also being punished for tactics that do not suit him. We are sacrificing his natural game.

"If they don't beat France - or even if they go all the way and don't win the World Cup - the German people will want Loew to go. I think he knows that, too. Germany won't accept a quarter-final defeat. The feeling is he must win the World Cup to keep his job.

"The German people are demanding a new philosophy, someone with fresh ideas, someone like Juergen Klopp. But that's a discussion for another time. First, Loew must beat France at the very least."

HAPPY FRENCH

Gildas Crozon, French newspaper journalist for Le Courrier de l'Ouest

"People like this French team now. That doesn't sound like much, but for many years we didn't like our own national team. The World Cup in 2010 was the lowest moment in our football history, but this feels like a resurrection.

"It's not the 1998 team with great individuals, but this is a young team, and the key word is 'team'. Whenever we speak to the French players now, they always use words like 'unity' and 'friendship', it's like a holiday for them right now in Brazil, but in a good way - they enjoy being with each other.

"The turning point was the play-off win over Ukraine. That's when the team spirit really came together and it's been growing ever since. What we have to see now is how they will react if they go a goal down against Germany. That will be their first test.

"Didier Deschamps has made a huge difference. When you listen to him speak, he is very persuasive. He knows how to convince his players. In the tough moments before Ukraine, what he said to his players was so inspirational and insightful.

"But the French people are so surprised we got this far. To be so close to being eliminated in the play-offs and then making the quarter-finals by playing such fast, attractive football has surprised us all.

"If we are eliminated against Germany, there will be not be national anger.Deschamps' contract has been extended to 2016 so it feels like a fresh beginning. The confidence is very high now."

World Cup