How France versus Germany could prove a high-scoring classic

But Deschamps must choose between reverting to 4-3-3 or sticking to the shape that brushed aside Iceland

BY Raf Diallo 15:17 Thursday 7 July 2016, 15:17 7 Jul 2016

France's Olivier Giroud celebrates with his teammate Antoine Griezmann, left, after scoring his side's first goal during the Euro 2016 quarterfinal soccer match between France and Iceland, at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, France, Sunday, July 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

In the lead up to tonight's second Euro 2016 semi-final, Mesut Ozil fired off a cheeky text to Arsenal team-mate Laurent Koscielny.

According to the Germany playmaker, he let it be known to the France defender that the world champions "are not Iceland".

But if they resume their usual shape against the French, Germany have one characteristic that bears one similarity to the way the Iceland side lined up in their 5-2 quarter-final defeat to Didier Deschamps side.

Iceland's back-four pressed up very high against France on Sunday and got punished accordingly. Helped by the fact that they had Antoine Griezmann playing off target man Olivier Giroud it meant a flick-on and run combo could tear through the opposition.

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No 14 and No 8 are Matuidi and Giroud and the point of the arrow is where there assists to Giroud and Griezmann respectively were received. But given that the recipients were on the run, the Iceland defensive line is much higher than shown here

Griezmann's goal - France's fourth of the night - illustrated that as he ran onto a Giroud flick and raced through the open spaces behind the Iceland defence.

Giroud, who is also not the quickest, also opened the scoring when he raced in behind as France found joy with direct balls forward.

When using a 4-2-3-1 formation, Germany's back-line situate themselves very, very high up the field when in possession - higher than any side at the Euros as they squeeze up.

Fortunately for them, they have a sweeper keeper like Manuel Neuer, who has the ball-playing ability to feature in midfield, and retains the awareness to rush forward and cut out danger.

They could still be threatened in transition though if France win the ball back and break the first lines of pressing quickly.

But there is a risk for Les Bleus to field the same line-up that they used against Iceland, especially in midfield. Especially with Mario Gomez ruled out for Germany, the French will not face a centre-forward but a revolving cast of playmakers and attacking midfielders which may require the return of Leicester's N'Golo Kante to track runs and patrol more effectively than the more box-to-box Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi could do on their own.

And a return of 4-3-3 would likely shove Griezmann away from the centre and further wide which mean Giroud's flick-ons, which were decisive against Ireland and Iceland, would be less useful.

But we would very likely get a high-scoring classic if Germany continue to push high and France go 4-2-3-1 without Kante and as neutrals, we won't mind. 


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