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EURO Classics: Germany 0-2 France

Read our guide to this fiercely contested EURO 2016 semi-final, then watch it in full on UEFA.tv.

Antoine Griezmann was France's star man in 2016
Antoine Griezmann was France's star man in 2016 Icon Sport via Getty Images

A typically raucous Marseille crowd would be called on to inspire hosts France as they looked to take the final step to the UEFA EURO 2016 final, but FIFA World Cup holders Germany knew how to handle pressure.

Context

EURO 2016 quarter-final highlights: France 5-2 Iceland
EURO 2016 quarter-final highlights: France 5-2 Iceland

"We're not playing a team, we're playing a whole country," said Germany boss Joachim Löw ahead of this high-profile encounter, the absences of Mats Hummels (suspended), Mario Gomez (thigh), and Sami Khedira (groin) giving him cause to cast his side as underdogs. Didier Deschamps was mindful that the Germans specialised in "dominating the opposition, hogging the ball", but still had hope for a first final-tournament win against France's neighbours since 1958.

Key players

Antoine Griezmann: Cristiano Ronaldo had a higher profile, but the Atlético Madrid striker was the poster boy for France's EURO with four goals at the finals going into the Germany game. His poise in front of goal would be crucial for Les Bleus.

Manuel Neuer: Golden Glove winner at the 2014 World Cup, Neuer went unbeaten through his first four games at the EURO, a Leonardo Bonucci goal for Italy in the quarter-finals stopping the clock at 557 minutes on his record for the longest time without conceding at major finals.

Watch amazing Lloris save against Germany
Watch amazing Lloris save against Germany

Hugo Lloris: Captain of Tottenham Hotspur for the 2015/16 campaign, Lloris could be as inspirational as Neuer on his day. Germany ensured that he was put under the spotlight in Marseille, with his presence as important as his shot-stopping in Marseille.

What happened

Joachim Löw's side enjoyed 64% possession in the first half – but with the last kick of it, they fell behind. Bastian Schweinsteiger blocked Patrice Evra's header with his hand and Antoine Griezmann – who missed a penalty in the 2016 UEFA Champions League final – made no mistake, sending Manuel Neuer the wrong way from the spot.

WATCH IN FULL ON UEFA.tv


Just as Germany looked to be working up a head of steam in the second half, France struck again. Paul Pogba retrieved possession down the left and Neuer, under pressure, could only palm away his cross; Griezmann prodded in the loose ball. Germany responded strongly, Joshua Kimmich rattling the outside of the post, while the French goal had several fortuitous escapes in the closing stages.

Reaction

Paris fan zone goes wild as France win
Paris fan zone goes wild as France win

Antoine Griezmann, France forward: "I hope we'll lift the trophy, but for now let's enjoy tonight. We're thrilled, we feel like kids. We know the whole country is behind us, so we're giving everything for them. It's our duty to win matches for the French public and let's hope we can finish on a high."

Didier Deschamps, France coach: "I had my share of finals as a player. I'm very proud as a coach and proud of my players. When I wore this shirt, it was the proudest moment of my career. There should be nothing above the French shirt for the players – perhaps that's not always been the case, but they're now very aware of what they can give to people when they're wearing this shirt."

Joachim Löw, Germany coach: "We had our chances but didn't score. Today we didn't have the luck; in 2010 and 2012 when we went out, the sides were better than us. Today we were better than the French but for the goals and result."

Elsewhere that night

Portugal confirmed their final place on the previous night, beating Wales 2-0, but plenty of other teams were not able to enjoy watching France-Germany on TV, since over 40 UEFA Europa League first qualifying round ties concluded that Thursday evening. Iceland's KR were one of the biggest winners, prevailing 6-0 in Northern Ireland at Glenavon.

Aftermath

EURO 2016 final highlights: Portugal 1-0 France
EURO 2016 final highlights: Portugal 1-0 France

After the semi-final, Germany coach Joachim Löw predicted: "I think France will win against Portugal. Portugal haven't convinced me that much so far." Already favourites, France looked to be nailed on winners after Portugal's star man Cristiano Ronaldo was taken off injured, but they froze a little in the spotlight, losing the game in extra-time (before making amends by winning the 2018 World Cup).

By contrast, the World Cup finals in Russia were a calamity for defending champions Germany, who bowed out in the group stage following defeats by Mexico and South Korea. Joachim Löw remained in charge, and led a remodelled Germany side through qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020 – where they will meet France in Group F.

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