France vs Germany World Cup 2014 preview: The key men for each team in the quarter-final

Who will France and Germany look to as they fight for a place in the final four?

Two European heavyweights go head-to-head in the Maracana on Friday afternoon, hoping to reach the final four of the World Cup.

We look at the three key men Didier Deschamps and Joachim Low will rely on in Rio de Janeiro and what they must do to ensure it is their team in the semi-final.

Read more: Philipp Lahm divisions add to Germany ill feeling
Five reasons why France will beat Germany
Five reasons why Germany will beat France

France

Raphael Varane

The classy young defender has started all three of the games France have won in this tournament and despite his tender years, the 21-year-old has not looked at all out of step on the world stage. France have conceded just twice in their four games so far and both of those came when they were already 5-0 up against Switzerland.

He will have to be at his very best to cope with the movement of 'false 9' Thomas Muller, who is anything but a traditional centre foward.

Paul Pogba

Sir Alex Ferguson, wherever he has been watching the World Cup, will still be kicking himself every time the centre midfielder plays. That Manchester United somehow allowed the infinitely talented Frenchman to leave Old Trafford for free still boggles.

Physically imposing and lighting quick, Pogba is graceful on the ball and possesses a fearsome strike. He is a sight to behold when driving at pace from midfield. Paul Pogba (centre) produced a man-of-the-match performance against Nigeria in the last 16 Paul Pogba is both graceful and destructive in the centre of the French midfield

Karim Benzema

The Real Madrid striker started the tournament brilliantly, scoring three goals in the opening two matches as France romped to victories against Honduras and Switzerland. But in the two matches since, Benzema has been off-colour and was well marshalled against Nigeria, though he did have a shot cleared off the line.

He will need to be back to his best and take any chances given to him by a stern German defence.

Germany

Manuel Neuer

The Bayern Munich keeper was sensational against Algeria, recording a quite amazing 21 touches outside of his area. Playing almost as a sweeper, the 28-year-old is the primary reason Germany are able to play such a high pressing game, despite Per Mertesacker's lack of pace.

When he's not resembling an outfield player, Neuer remains one of the best goalkeepers in the game, calm under the high ball and an excellent shot-stopper.

Philipp Lahm

There has been plenty of discussion surrounding which position the German skipper will play. He is so good in a holding role, capable of breaking up play and starting attacks but he is easily the best full back they have.

Low has opted to play Lahm in the midfield and use four central defenders across his back four - however, against Algeria the Germans were a much bigger attacking threat with Lahm pouring down the right. It will be interesting to see what Low opts to do. Philipp Lahm is excellent in midfield but better at full back Philipp Lahm is excellent in midfield but better at full back

Thomas Muller

The Germany hitman didn't have the greatest of games against Algeria, but he was still a constant threat. Whether he plays through the middle or out wide, Muller's superior movement gives defenders nightmares. He doesn't always appear to be completely involved in the game but he is the man to step up for the Germans when it really matters.

Nine goals in 10 World Cup matches are testament to that.

Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone