Football

Michel Sablon: French defence well organised

Our analyst lauds Deschamps for strengthening defence to complement awesome attack

1 Germany coach Joachim Leow said after the match that the better team lost. Do you agree?

MICHEL​ SABLON: I think Germany were overall the better team, but the two goalkeepers made the difference.

Hugo Lloris was fantastic throughout the match while Manuel Neuer made a mistake that resulted in the second goal.

France started well but Germany took over completely after 10 minutes.

I am very doubtful about the referee's decision to give France a penalty in the first half.

I saw the replay three or four times and I couldn't see how it was a penalty.

Perhaps there was a handball incident earlier that wasn't punished and this was compensation for the French.

The penalty decided the game.

2 Both of France's goals were down to individual errors, which is unusual for a German team. Is it because the world champions were overconfident?

I was really surprised by the second goal, where two defenders were trying to pass their way out of the box with French players pressing them.

But you should not forget that the mistakes were made by two players - Benedikt Hoewedes and substitute Shkodran Mustafi - who have not played together in central defence in this tournament.

When I saw Jerome Boateng limping out, I said to my friend, "This is a disaster for Germany". Boateng was the one who organised the defence, and was easily their best defender.

3 Save for his assist for the second goal, Paul Pogba was anonymous against Germany. How do you assess his performance?

I know France coach Didier Deschamps as a player and he was well organised on the pitch.

As a coach, he is the same, and very, very strict with the instructions he gives to his players. That's the way he works.

Pogba knows that he is not with Juventus but with the national team and has to follow the instructions, even if he is not entirely comfortable with them.

It has not been a great tournament for the 23-year-old, but he made a difference for the second goal, which decided the match.

He was there when it mattered.

4 Why is Antoine Griezmann so devastating in front of goal in this tournament when he is not even a natural striker?

In this tournament, a lot of midfielders have been scoring, besides the strikers.

Griezmann is not the tallest forward, but he is always at the right place at the right time.

He has benefited from the movement and coverage of his teammates such as Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba.

Opposing defenders will not give an inch to these French attackers in their own box, but that means intelligent players such as Griezmann can exploit these spaces to get the goals.

5 Were you surprised that Samuel Umtiti started in defence again, instead of the more experienced Adil Rami?

Deschamps analyses his opponents well, and probably had special instructions for Umtiti, who did very well.

That said, this has been a very atypical French side; historically, they have been an attacking side and leaving tournaments because they were not strong in defence.

This year, it's the other way; the team are very well-organised, especially in defence, and credit must be given to Deschamps for his clear, albeit, strict, instructions.


The team are very well organised, especially in defence, and credit must be given to Deschamps for his clear, albeit, strict, instructions.

- Michel Sablon


SEMI-FINAL

GERMANY 0

FRANCE 2
(Antoine Griezmann 45+2-pen, 72)

France's formula for success

1 What a case for the defence

Against Iceland, Samuel Umtiti was the weak link. Against Germany, the new Barcelona signing proved to be an impenetrable rock.

Didier Deschamps deserves credit for persisting with the international novice (inset) who kept Thomas Mueller quiet.

2 Speed loses to experience


With a combined age of 68, Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna were hardly speedy wing men.

Indeed, in the early exchanges against Germany, they were pinned in their own half as their opponents dominated possession. But, as the game progressed, their superior experience told.

3 Surprising Sissoko

Relegated with Newcastle United and considered a bench warmer for his country, Moussa Sissoko isn't the most reliable of wingers.

But the 26-year-old was a study in concentration against Germany, displaying a level of industry that had eluded him at Newcastle.

4 Griezmann carries Giroud

Antoine Griezmann had to carry Olivier Giroud because Giroud looked like he was carrying a tractor.

Giroud has never had pace, but still indulged in sprints he was never going to win.

Griezmann was smarter, running into space, rather than towards opponents, and he scored his second goal that way. - NEIL HUMPHREYS

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