Romania – W 2-1
Albania – W 2-0
Switzerland – D 0-0
Round of 16:
Republic of Ireland – W 2-1
Iceland – W 5-2
Ukraine – W 2-0
Poland – D 0-0
Northern Ireland – W 1-0
Round of 16:
Slovakia – W 3-0
Italy – W 1-1 (5-3 on penalties)
France – $2.80
Draw – $3
Germany – $2.90
Odds by Sportsbet.com.au
We’ve already had a few final-worthy fixtures at the 2016 European Championships, but this is the pick of the lot.
The bookies can hardly split France and Germany, both of whom would be roaring favourites to topple either Portugal or Wales in the decider.
Les Bleus have the narrow edge, owing perhaps to their home turf advantage.
But it’s well deserved, as they have looked the better team throughout EURO 2016.
The attacking prowess of the French squad was on full display in the quarters as they knocked five past a dogged but ultimately outclassed Iceland side.
Yet there was also some evidence of defensive frailty, as the Nordic battlers managed to grab two consolation goals in the second half.
It wasn’t the first time Didier Deschamps’ men had looked nervy in this tournament, although perhaps that’s the wrong word for a side that was leading 5-0 at half time.
Nevertheless, much has been said about the fact they are running low on quality stoppers.
Adil Rami, Samuel Umtiti and Eliaquim Mangala wouldn’t be in the mix if the likes of Raphael Varane, Jeremy Mathieu and Mamadou Sakho hadn’t dropped out of the squad.
They’ve avoided disaster so far, however, and they could be spared any potential blushes by an uncharacteristically erratic Germany attack.
Except for their 3-0 round of 16 win over Slovakia, Joachim Loew’s charges have looked some ways short of their dynamic best.
Their other four outings thus far have produced a mere three goals – not the kind of return one would expect of the reigning world champions.
The biggest worry is the usually prolific Thomas Muller, who has yet to find the back of the net at France 2016.
He even missed his penalty kick in the shootout win over Italy in the quarterfinals.
The Bayern Munich forward wasn’t the only man to flop in what was a shabby and uninspiring clash between Europe’s two most successful nations.
It was Germany’s first ever victory over the Azzurri in major tournaments, but it came at a dear cost.
Mats Hummels (suspended), Sami Khedira (adductor) and top scorer Mario Gomez (hamstring) will all miss, while Bastian Schweinsteiger is also in doubt with a thigh complaint.
Despite the absence of such key figures, Muller reckons die Mannschaft have the quality to oust a France outfit which, while highly gifted, has benefitted from a softer draw.
“Fear never comes into it,” the German no.13 told reporters this week.
“We know France have many good players, but Iceland didn’t honestly look that good at the back so if we defend well as a team, we will not let these players get into positions to show their class.
“We’re respectful, but I’m optimistic we’ll find a solution even if we’ve got some players missing out, which is bitter.
“This happens in football, there are always injuries and suspensions for big games but you’ve got to compensate as a team.
“I said before the tournament that I’ve never seen so much depth of quality in our team as we have now so I’m sure we can compensate.”
Match betting tips
- Draw in regulation time – $3 at Sportsbet
- Correct score 1-1 (90 mins) – $5.50 at Sportsbet
- Germany to qualify – $1.90 at William Hill
France have the home advantage, the form, and perhaps the most talented attack of any international team right now.
However, that fourth-string back line remains a cause for serious concern.
If they were playing anybody else, you would say the French were the better bet.
But Germany have that knack for stepping up in the big games and doing enough to get it done.
The chaotic penalty shootout win over Italy serves as a prime example – it wasn’t pretty, but they’re still kicking.
It should be a tight one, as the bookmakers’ odds suggest, but we fancy the depleted Germans to edge it in extra time.
Antoine Griezmann betting specials
- Anytime goalscorer – $3.50 at William Hill
- First French goalscorer – $5.50 at Sportsbet
- To score two or more goals – $19 at Sportsbet
After a somewhat nervy start to the Euros, Griezmann has emerged as the bona fide superstar Atletico Madrid fans know him to be.
It was his electric second-half performance that turned the game in France’s favour after they trailed Ireland in the round of 16.
He also struck in the rout of Iceland to take his tournament tally to four goals, putting him in the box seat for the Euro 2016 Golden Boot award.
While he is yet to face anything like Germany’s defensive quality thus far, he is the standout threat in a star-studded forward line.
Julian Draxler first goalscorer odds
- Anytime goalscorer – $6 at Sportsbet
- First goalscorer + Germany win – $15 at William Hill
- To score inside 10 minutes – $37 at William Hill
Draxler didn’t start against Italy, and Germany’s attacking play was worse for it.
The Wolfsburg forward was the star of the show against Slovakia, peppering the goals early and wreaking general havoc before bagging the second-half sealer.
His dynamic, direct play from the left flank adds a dimension that isn’t quite there when Muller and Gomez line up as a traditional strike pair.
He’s no certainty to start, even with Gomez out injured, but Draxler could be the man to bound in off the bench and break open what is expected to be tight tussle.
Possible France and Germany lineups
France: Hugo Lloris; Bacary Sagna, Eliaquim Mangala, Laurent Koscielny, Patrice Evra; N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba; Dimitri Payet, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud.
Germany: Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Hoewedes, Jonas Hector; Toni Kroos, Emre Can, Mesut Ozil; Thomas Muller, Julian Draxler, Mario Gotze.
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