France vs Germany match report World Cup 2014: Mats Hummels heads Germany into the semi-finals

France 0 Germany 1

Brazil 2014 has been the story of neurotic defences and  liberated, attacking football but at some point it was a fair bet that the goals would dry up as the stakes were raised. It just happened to be the Europeans who interrupted the party, although that will matter little to Germany.

FOLLOW OUR WORLD CUP LIVE BLOG HERE

On march Die Nationalmannschaft to their fourth successive World Cup semi-finals, a record for any country. This is not a lavishly talented German team and given opportunities to score further goals they displayed none of the old ruthlessness we expect of them but, well, they got the job done. Mats Hummels scored the winning goal with just 12 minutes of the game played and the Germans closed the deal with confidence.

It is 18 years without a trophy on the international stage but they rarely fall short when the pressure is on. Afterwards, Joachim Löw, who tinkered successfully with the side that eliminated Algeria in the previous round, dropping Per Mertesacker, reminded the press that Germany had won 28 out of their last 31 official World Cup finals matches: “It’s quite a performance.”

This game was not in keeping with the ebullient mood of the tournament but it showcased what this current Germany team are best at. Hummels was the outstanding player in the centre of defence although once again Manuel Neuer ran him close, stopping the French attacks on the few occasions they managed to get a shot on goal, most notably efforts from Mathieu Valbuena and then, late on, Karim Benzema.

Löw said that he believed he the conditions in Brazil suited the Latin American countries, although that is the last time his team will have to kick off at 1pm. “In Germany in 2006 all of the four semi-finalists were European,” he said. “Now the South Americans are fighting for their lives. They know the climate and it does have an effect. Of course they have an advantage playing on home turf.”

 

It was a bad day for Didier Deschamps and France, one in which their shortcomings were exposed. The inexperience in this young team meant that they allowed themselves to be bossed in midfield at times and they could not take the few chances that came their way. Their manager insisted more than once that there was not much between the team, and he was right, but Germany’s victory demonstrated what a good tournament side they have become.

“Sometimes you need a bit of luck,” Deschamps said. “Sometimes you need to be faster. Neuer made some good saves. I don’t think there was a huge gap between the teams. We had some chances, but we weren’t as efficient or as lucky as we could have been.”

Yet in the closing stages, when Deschamps’ team were trying to rescue the game, it was Germany who had the better opportunities on the counter-attack, most notably the substitute André   Schürrle. France started this tournament with such ambition, eight goals in their first two games, but they had precious little to spare in the heat of the Maracana.

It was a big decision from Löw to drop Mertesacker, uncomfortable holding the high line played against  Algeria that caused his team such anxiety. The Arsenal man has neither the pace nor the mobility to do it, but it was notable that with Jerome Boateng switched to the centre once more, Löw’s defence played much deeper.

France players were inconsolable at the final whistle France players were inconsolable at the final whistle Like all elite coaches, these are big decisions and by the end of the game, as Mertesacker left the pitch with his arm around his Arsenal team-mate Laurent Koscielny, Löw could feel vindicated. His defence had dealt with the three in France’s attack of Benzema, Valbuena and Antoine Griezmann, the latter preferred to Olivier  Giroud. What the defence had not coped with, the gloves of Neuer did.

Before the break, France did not test that German back four which was made to look so vulnerable against Algeria. Instead they found themselves often overrun in the midfield where the Germans seemed to have it all their own way, using the spaces around Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba and what felt like an extra man at all times. Only at the end of the half did France come back into the game.

They had gone behind to Hummels’ header on 12 minutes glanced off the cross of Toni Kroos whose free-kick came from the left wing. There were no points for assertiveness for Raphael Varane who, right from the start of Hummels’ run across the box, allowed himself to held at arm’s length by his fellow defender.

For all their possession, Germany did not test Hugo Lloris again before the break. There was some nonsense from Miroslav Klose in the area on 24 minutes when he threw himself to ground as Mathieu Debuchy unwisely grabbed a handful of his shirt. The Argentinian referee saw nothing wrong with it.

Valbuena had made France’s first chance, a cut-back to Benzema which the latter put wide. Later, with 11 minutes to the break, Valbuena had France’s best chance of the game. Griezmann, who had wandered out to the right through what looked like frustration, hit a cross to the back of the post for Valbuena to meet. His shot was saved well by Neuer. The rebound fell to Benzema but Hummels managed to get his effort up and over the bar.

Deschamps seemed unwilling to let his team off the leash in pursuit of the equaliser until late on. Indeed, his first substitution was to replace Mamadou Sakho with Koscielny. Shortly afterwards he brought on Loic Rémy and played the Newcastle United man on the right.

France could not get in behind the Germans, even with their wealth of attacking talent. Matuidi had a chance, a shot blocked by Neuer from the left side. Hummels continued his fine game, stealing the ball away from Benzema at crucial times. Schürrle was on for Klose and Thomas Muller pushed forward into the centre-forward position.

Schürrle had two chances in the last 10 minutes. The first came when Mesut Özil crossed, Muller missed the ball and it fell to the Chelsea man. Lloris saved. Later, Varane threw himself in front of another shot. There was one final chance for France, a break down the left channel by Benzema. His shot was pushed away by Neuer. France had not got close to beating him.

France (4-3-3): Lloris; Debuchy, Varane, Sakho, Evra; Pogba, Cabaye, Matuidi; Valbuena, Benzema, Griezmann.

Subs: Koscielny/Sakho 72, Remy/Cabaye 73, Giroud/Valbuena 86

Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Hoewedes; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Muller, Kroos, Ozil; Klose.

Subs: Schurrle/Klose 69, Gotze/Ozil 84, Kramer/Kroos 90

Referee: N Pitana (Argentina)

Man of the match: Hummels

Booked: Germany Khedira, Schweinsteiger

Rating: 5

Attendance: 74,420

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'