Steve Ashfield previews the second semi-final of Euro 2016...
France love staging major tournaments, that's because when they do get given that task, they tend to go on and win it. So far they have hosted and won the World Cup and the European Championships and now they're just two games away from completing a hat-trick by winning Euro 2016. They face an almighty task in reaching the final though as they take on World Champions Germany.
When it comes to betting on Germany in an international friendly, it's probably best to just leave well alone. Losses to England (face it any loss to England is a shock) and Slovakia prove that the Germans don't always put too much focus on such games. When it comes to a tournament though it's a completely different story.
Germany are the current World Champions and in the European Championships have won the title on three occasions. Their last win was in 1996 (remember the days when England were awarded tournaments to host?) and since then they have reached two semi-finals and lost in the 2008 final. It's the same old story again this year.
Without really sparkling that much the Germans have been their usual efficient, get in there and do the job, selves. They managed to go through their group without conceding a goal. A comfortable win over the Ukraine was followed by a goalless draw with Poland before a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland clinched the group.
Despite finishing top of the group Germany haven't had an easy time in the knock-out stages of Euro 2016. It was alright in the last sixteen when they impressively beat Slovakia but then found themselves up against Italy in the quarter finals. A tough tactical game saw Germany win yet again on penalties. Do you reckon Germany can win in 90 minutes? Go to 138.com and they will give you odds of 19/10 on them doing so.
Germany will be without Gomez for this game which isn't the best bit of news they could be given. They do have a strong squad though and should be able to cope. Despite only conceding one goal so far in France, their defence has looked a little bit shaky at times. It'll be interesting to see just how they will cope against the likes of Giroud, Griezmann and Payet.
France have also made steady progress in this tournament despite being denied the chance to wallop England in the quarter finals. At times it's been a bit of a struggle for the French despite all the possession they have had.
It wasn't until they showed England how to beat Iceland that they scored a goal in the first half. Before that they hadn't managed one before the 57th. They may have won their group with seven points out of nine but it could have been so different. France needed late goals to get past both Romania and Albania and failed to find the net against Switzerland. In the last sixteen they had to come from behind to beat the Republic of Ireland and then had that bizarre game against Iceland.
The French finally worked out how to score in the first half and virtually sealed the win by the time it was time for a break. Iceland kept on conceding goals in the second half but managed two of their own in the second half. If Iceland can score two goals against France, what can Germany do?If you think their defence will improve and they can keep a clean sheet against Germany then that's 29/10 at 138.com. It has to be something that will worry the French as they take a huge step up in class for this game.
A match that would have made a fitting final. Whoever wins it will be hot favourites to go on and win the tournament. Both sides are unbeaten in the tournament and will be hard to beat. France have the home support of course but also all the pressure that hosting a tournament brings. Germany didn't look that great before the tournament but as usual they up their game when it most matters. A difficult game to predict but I see some goals in this game, let's go for both teams to score. That's on offer at 19/10 at 138.com
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