Football

Sablon: French flair will prevail

Our analyst Michel Sablon says France's attack will exploit the absence of Hummels and Khedira

SEMI-FINAL

GERMANY v FRANCE

(Tomorrow, 2.50am, Singtel TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 220 - Eleven EURO)

1 Mats Hummels is suspended while Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gomez are all injured. Will that prove costly for Germany?

MICHEL SABLON: Yes, because these players have made a big difference in previous games.

Hummels is part of the defence that has conceded just one goal, which was a penalty, at this tournament.

Khedira has been a key defensive midfielder, while Schweinsteiger and Gomez combined for four of the seven goals Germany have scored, so they will be missed.

I think if Schweinsteiger's injury is not too serious, he will play because Julian Weigl is too inexperienced and Germany need Joshua Kimmich more at right back. They can't afford to lose their authority in midfield.

Gomez is also a key player because he is their top scorer at Euro 2016.

But, like I said before, they have other players who can score from the second line such as Mesut Oezil, who did against Italy in the quarter-finals. Thomas Mueller should lead the line, and they also have Mario Goetze and Andre Schuerrle.

Joachim Loew should revert back to the 4-2-3-1 system after changing to a 3-5-2 to cope with Italy. With the injuries and suspension, some of the German players will have to adapt to playing out of position, which Loew will try his best to minimise.

2 Didier Deschamps has a selection headache with a fully fit squad. Should he keep Moussa Sissoko and Samuel Umtiti in the starting 11 or bring back N'Golo Kante and Adil Rami?

I think Kante and Rami will play.

There is not that much of a difference between Kante and Sissoko as both are equally strong midfielders, but Kante has had a very consistent season with Leicester so he should be back in the first team.

Rami will also start because he is much more experienced than Umtiti.

They are not facing Iceland. This is a semi-final against world champions Germany, which in itself is like a final.

As we have seen in Belgium's defeat by Wales, in which Jason Denayer and Jordan Lukaku were exposed, experience counts at the highest level.

Deschamps has already done well to cope with the loss of key defenders like Raphael Varane, Jeremy Mathieu and Mamadou Sakho before Euro 2016, and he will need all the experience he has.

3 Speaking about the French defence, they did concede from open play for the first time in this tournament when Iceland scored twice from crosses from the flanks. Is that something Germany can exploit?

Germany also have players who are strong in the air, and they beat France 1-0 at the last World Cup by a Hummels header.

But I don't think they will be playing many long balls like Iceland, who have no other alternative.

Instead, they will play with quick ball circulation like they always have.

France were leading 4-0 when Iceland scored their first goal in the second half.

The concentration level of a team leading 4-0 is different from that when the game is balanced.

4 With Dimitri Payet, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann all in form, what attacking system do you think would work for the French against Germany?

They should be using the same 4-2-3-1 system with Giroud as the main striker if he recovers from a knee problem.

Technically, they are of a very high level and they know each other very well so I don't think it matters so much if Payet or Griezmann starts in the central attacking position behind Giroud because the French forwards are able to change zones easily.

Their constant positional changes make them very dangerous and difficult to defend against.

Many people focus on Payet and he has done well with three goals, but Griezmann has also performed and is now the top scorer with four goals.

He doesn't start as a striker, and sometimes sits deep but, all of a sudden, he is in the danger area.

At 1.75m, he is not a very tall forward but he has shown he can also score from headers. Overall, he is a very intelligent and mobile player who will cause Germany problems.

5 The last time Germany played in a semi-final of a major tournament, they also faced the hosts and walloped Brazil 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup. Any chance of that happening again?

No, with the number of key players missing, the best result they can manage against France is a draw.

The last two times France hosted a major championship, they won (Euro 1984 and the World Cup in 1998), so they know how to perform at home.

Their midfield unit of Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Kante is strong enough to control the match against the depleted Germans, who have to rely on their discipline to get something out of this game.

It will be close, but the French have what it takes to win in 90 minutes and I'm going for a 1-0 victory for the hosts.

  • Michel Sablon, the Football Association of Singapore's technical director, was talking to David Lee. The 68-year-old former Belgian FA technical director is credited for developing the blueprint that produced Belgium's current golden generation of footballers.
europeGermanyFranceEuro 2016michel sablon