The first marquee clash of the Euro 2020 will take place at the Allianz Arena in Munich as Germany hosts France to set the tone in the group of death.
Joachim Low’s final assignment with the national team has been the focal point so far with Hansi Flick tipped to take over the responsibilities after the tournament.
Germany have emerged as one of the most successful nations of the last decade due to their consistency in tournaments. While their triumph in the 2014 World Cup will be relished forever, their near finishes in the Euros will hurt just as much.
Under Low, the nation has finished as finalists in 2008, and semi-finalists in 2012 and 2016. This being the team’s last dance under the long-term manager will hope to finish things off in style.
The Germans have slowly faded away as heavyweights with their group stage exit in the 2018 World Cup being a clear indicator. A revamp of the side has ensured the influx of new talent and while experienced players like Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller were not considered initially, they are a part of the squad and have a vital role to play to guide the rather inexperienced backline and frontline.
Germany entered the competition after topping their qualification table ahead of Netherlands. They head into their first game high on confidence and rhythm following a 7-1 demolition win over Latvia.
Low played an expansive backline in both of their warm-up fixtures and if that seems to be the case, expect Rudiger, Hummels and Ginter or Sule to form the defensive line in front of skipper Manuel Neuer.
The versatile Joshua Kimmich is expected to run the midfield alongside Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos.
The front three is an area where Low is presented with a selection dilemma. The options primarily include Leroy Sane, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry. All of the attackers had an eventful outing against Latvia which makes the selection more difficult.
Thomas Muller was played upfront in both the games which hints at his role in the Euros. Expect Serge Gnabry to start on the wing with either one of Havertz or Sane to start on the other.
The Les Blues have the tags of favourites since their World Cup triumph and the group of death makes things all that difficult for them as they head to better their effort from five years ago.
However, the team are certainly not making things easy for themselves with the ego clashes taking up all the spotlight. Coach Didier Deschamps will have to shake the off field issues as they come up against a young and unpredictable German side.
Deschamps, having won the Euros as a player in 2000 will attempt to coach his side to the trophy 21 years later, after having already done the same with the World Cup. France had eliminated Germany in the semi-finals of the last edition of the tournament.
The World champions will be led by Hugo Lloris in goal with Raphael Varane and Presnel Kimpembe starting at centre defence. The full back duo of Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard will reprise their role from the World Cup in this tournament as well.
Midfield and the attack are where France look menacing due to the talent, versatility and depth. A midfield three of N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Adrian Rabiot strikes balance and support for the attack. Moreover, France are yet to lose in the 27 fixtures where Kante and Pogba have started together.
While Giroud shone in France’s 3-0 win over Bulgaria recently, he is expected to play the role of a super sub due to the return of Karim Benzema. The Real Madrid striker will play alongside Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe to form one of the most potent trios of the competition.
Waging Odds: France (2.70) vs Germany (2.87) (Draw 3.20)
Germany are the underdogs and are priced at 2.87, meaning if you bet ₹100 on them and if they win the match, you’ll be making ₹287.
France are priced at 2.70 and are the favourites. Betting ₹100 on them will earn you ₹270 if they come out as winners.
The odds for a draw are placed at 3.20. Betting ₹100 on them will earn you ₹320 if the fixture ends all level.
The tight odds indicate that there is very little to separate these two sides. Both of the teams possess piercing attacks that take the chances of a clean sheet away as well. While the lineups and the strengths of the team lead to thrilling end-to-end action, the nerves of playing the first game are bound to interfere. Set pieces could be pivotal as well taking the pace of the front three of both sides into account.
A slender win for France by a single goal might be on the books with the German side being far behind in terms of chemistry when compared to their opposition.