Recap: France 0-1 Germany

Pool

It wasn't pretty but it was effective; Germany become the first team in the history of the World Cup to reach a fourth consecutive semifinal.

Analyzing this match is almost cumbersome because it was a strange game. Perhaps, affected by the heat on the day, both times played out a pretty good first half but faded in the second.

Germany started well and had more possession. Joachim Löw restored Philipp Lahm to right back. He took Per Mertesacker out of defense and restored Hummels. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos started together in midfield. Mario Götze was left on the bench; Miroslav Klose led the line. His hold up play was good but he did not really get too many chances to score today.

Germany scored via a set piece. Toni Kroos, who has been one of the unsung heroes of the tournament and Germany's best midfielder (not counting Thomas Müller who has been used as a front man mostly) sent in a wonderful cross. Mats Hummels rose above all to head the ball past Hugo Lloris. After conceding, Lloris did not have one more meaningful save to make.

Manuel Neuer on the other hand had to be at his best at the other end. Long diagonal balls over the top were constantly undoing Germany. Hummels, Boateng and Lahm had plenty of last minute defending to do to deny the French. When they failed, Neuer superbly denied the likes of Karim Benzema, even when he could not see the ball properly in the sunshine.

France had the better chances but Germany was the better side overall going into the break. In the second half, Germany seemed content to let the French play. They had two wonderful opportunities toward the end on the break though, both wasted by one of the substitutes, Chelsea's Andre Schürrle. Germany also had other promising breaks but could not make the most of them.

Overall, the game was tight and France really could not find a good final pass. When they did, either Hummels or Boateng stood tall. Germany managed to squeak through. They played as well as they needed to, as Michael Ballack adhered to in ESPN's post match show.

They will have to improve but at least Joachim Löw has finally placed Lahm at the back. And after all, they are back in the semifinals.

Next up is Colombia or Brazil in Belo Horizonte. Perhaps, afterwards, another trip to the Maracana might await them.

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