By Ben Browning
Published: June 15, 2021 10:27 pm
Last Updated: June 15, 2021 10:33 pm
France edged past a toothless-looking German side 1-0 courtesy of an own goal from Mats Hummels. The defender, who turned into his own net from a Lucas Hernandez cross, was lucky not to concede a penalty in the second half and struggled to cope with the pace of Kylian Mbappe all night.
This result leaves Group F delicately poised, with Germany’s game against Portugal later this week taking on renewed importance.
Built up as a show-stopper, the first of the tournament, the game threatened to spark into life several times but finished in a drab manner.
Here are 5 things that 101 picked out from the fixture.
5.Paul Pogba is a different player for France.
The Paul Pogba on show for Manchester United is a totally different proposition to the one that occupies the centre of midfield for Les Blues.
To an extent, that is understandable- For his country, he has the best midfielder in the world behind him in N’golo Kante. Nevertheless, he appears much more carefree in Deschamps’ system, allowing his natural charisma and creativity to shine through.
1 – Paul Pogba against Germany tonight:
🏅 12 recoveries, highest tally of the game
🏅 13 duels won, highest tally of the game
🏅 4 fouls won, highest tally of the game
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 15, 2021
Perhaps it is the brilliant players around him, but the weight of pass for Lucas Hernandez to cross into the unfortunate Mats Hummels was even more impressive having been played with the outside of his foot.
4. Germany look an unbalanced side
It is difficult to understand just how Germany will find success this summer. They have a whole host of top players, but they appear disjointed. Joshua Kimmich, one of the best central-midfielders in world football, was shifted to wing-back, leaving the centre of the pitch ponderous.
Further forwards, Kai Havertz was selected alongside Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller, although all three will be incredibly disappointed with their contributions.
It seems as though Low is yet to find the right balance to his side, with the wing-backs not offering enough in the final third to make their deployment worthwhile.
Germany have lost their opening fixture of the European Championship for the first time in their history.
There’s always a first for everything… pic.twitter.com/qgQxFWB4tC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 15, 2021
However, the Germans are yet to find a striker they can trust to lead the line effectively, with Timo Werner having endured a torrid season and Kevin Volland not having done enough on his rare appearances. In the absence of a recognised number 9, Serge Gnabry occupies the role, but this leaves Die Manschaaft short of creativity in the wide areas.
There is definite talent in the Germany side, but based on the performance against France, it is not being harnessed effectively.
3. France remain the side to beat
France were the tournament favourites going into the tournament, and will certainly uphold that mantle after tonight’s performance. For the most part, it felt as if they didn’t get out of first gear, and but for some last-ditch defending and good offside calls, Les Blues could have been out of sight.
Any side with Kylian Mbappe in are a side to fear, even before you add in the class of those around him. Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are all stellar names, whilst the firepower they can call on from the bench is more than most sides have brought to the tournament.
Mbappe ran Germany ragged ⚡ pic.twitter.com/EExJR21Eav
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 15, 2021
The PSG forward was typically excellent against the Germans, scoring a lovely goal with a curling finish only for it to be ruled out, as well as forcing Mats Hummels into a very good last-ditch challenge that could have earned France a penalty.
There will likely be tougher tests for Deschamps’ side, but on early viewing, they remain the side to beat.
2. VAR can be used effectively
Ask for any Premier League fans’ opinion on VAR, and you may receive an expletive-ridden response. The technology implemented in the Premier League has made the games confusing, slow and unclear, with new rules seemingly made up every week.
However, the Euro’s usage of VAR to date has shown England’s top league how it should be done. This was perfectly demonstrated in this game. VAR quickly, and with a minimum of fuss, ruled out Kylian Mbappe’s curled effort, whilst it aimed for the most part to uphold the referee’s decisions.
Of course, it was helped by the fact that the standard of officiating on show was far better than that in the Premier League, with Carlos del Cerro Grande getting the majority of decisions spot on, and perhaps most importantly, showing remarkable consistency.
The Euros have shown England and English football how the technology should be used going forward. We can only hope that they are taking note.
1.Germany up against it
With this defeat, Germany now seem up against it to guarantee qualification. Although four of the six best third-placed sides go through, the Germans have a tricky game against Portugal on the horizon, whilst Hungary proved today that they are no pushovers.
Lose to Portugal, and Joachim Low’s side would need to beat Hungary to have any chance whatsoever of progressing to the knockout rounds. Whilst the opening defeat is not a death-blow, it is certainly far from ideal.
This article was edited by
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