SEMI-FINAL 2 Germany v France
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MARSEILLE • Didier Deschamps' talented France stand in the way of spluttering juggernaut Germany in today's Euro 2016 semi-final.
The hosts, buoyed by a 5-2 quarter-final thumping of plucky minnows Iceland, can expect near-fanatical support with an element of revenge in the air in Marseille.
Their rivals are also in confident mood, despite missing key players through injury and suspension after their penalty shoot-out win over Italy in the last eight.
France are unbeaten in their last nine games and Germany in their last six.
"For us, there is no fear. We know that France are loaded with good players, but they are under pressure as hosts," said Germany forward Thomas Muller.
"They have our respect, but I am optimistic that we will find solutions (to the injury problems). For us, there is no loss of quality."
Germany's tense penalty shoot-out win in Bordeaux came at a high price. Centre-back Mats Hummels picked up a yellow card which sees him suspended in Marseille.
Clean sheets kept by France in their four meetings with Germany at major tournaments.
Consecutive major tournament games in which France remain unbeaten at home, winning 15 and drawing two.
Goals scored by France in five games, the highest in Euro 2016.
Goals and assists by France forward Antoine Griezmann, the highest at Euro 2016.
Semi-finals Germany have reached in each of their last six major tournaments (World Cup 2006, Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012, World Cup 2014, Euro 2016), the longest run for any European team.
Striker Mario Gomez and midfielder Sami Khedira had thigh and groin injuries respectively which rule them out of the semi-final.
To compound their problems, captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is highly doubtful with a knee strain.
Coach Joachim Low is set to resort to a 4-2-3-1 formation, having used a 3-5-2 against Italy.
Mario Goetze is set to start up front, but Low may play his Bayern Munich team-mate Muller alongside him.
Shkodran Mustafi or Benedikt Hoewedes will partner Jerome Boateng at centre-back, with Joshua Kimmich at right-back and Jonas Hector on the left.
Low is likely to introduce a new face in midfield, with Liverpool's Emre Can or Julian Weigl of Borussia Dortmund set to partner Toni Kroos in the defensive roles.
The Germans know they must counter France striker Olivier Giroud, who has scored against their goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in each of the last three games for France and Arsenal.
"He is a very dangerous poacher inside the box," said Neuer. "He is strong in the air, he is dangerous for central defenders. But we know him and can prepare for him. They have a lot of other quality players."
For France, defender Adil Rami and midfielder N'Golo Kante are back in contention. They were suspended for the Iceland game.
It is a historic game. The old rivals have won five European titles between them - three for the Germans as West Germany or Germany and two for France. But, interestingly, they have never faced each other before at the tournament.
Their previous duels have been reserved for the World Cup stage which has witnessed four epic battles, with three wins for the Germans.
Now, France coach Deschamps has called on Les Bleus to end their 58-year wait to beat Germany in a major tournament.
"We can't change past history, but we've got our own page to write," he said yesterday. "We're facing the best team in the world, but the lads have to believe and we want the fans to believe in us too."
He admitted Neuer will have to be beaten to get past Low's side. In their most recent loss, at the 2014 World Cup, the French had their chances but kept bumping into the wall called Neuer, who made a string of saves.
"We need to score goals. This is a team that doesn't concede a lot of goals," said Deschamps. "Germany take command of their games and they dominate possession but we can't go into this match thinking we're going to defend, then hit on the counter-attack."
However, the German camp has been eager to play down the historical significance. "The chance to win two titles back-to-back is not something you get every day. We're looking forward to it," said Muller, as Germany look to add the European crown to their world title.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS