France 1-0 Germany: Hummels' own goal settles heavyweight clash
Mats Hummels' Germany comeback was marred by an own goal as Euro 2020 favourites France started their campaign with a 1-0 victory in Munich.
Hummels, who scored the winner when Germany knocked France out of the 2014 World Cup, had been in international exile since 2018, yet his return hardly went to plan as he turned into Germany's net 20 minutes into the Group F encounter.
Joachim Low's side never seemed to settle against France's press, and were perhaps fortunate to see Antonio Rudiger go unpunished for a possible bite on Paul Pogba.
Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema had goals disallowed for offside, but Les Blues – who also hit the post through Adrien Rabiot – were not made to pay as they went unbeaten in a Euro opener for a ninth straight time.
A scrappy opening should have been punctuated by a France goal, yet Paul Pogba sent a free header over after meeting Antoine Griezmann's excellent corner.
Making his 100th start for Germany – the first goalkeeper in the nation's history to do so – Manuel Neuer had to parry Mbappe's strike as France purred.
France soon had their opener, however. Mbappe was well placed to finish from Lucas Hernandez's cross, but instead it was Hummels who sliced into his own net with Germany's defence caught cold by an exquisite Pogba pass.
Thomas Muller wasted an immediate chance to equalise, before Pogba seemed to complain Rudiger had bitten him, though the replays were inconclusive.
France looked all set to double their lead early in the second half, only for Rabiot to hit the near post from close range after ignoring a simple pass to the waiting Griezmann.
Rabiot's chance kicked Germany into gear – Serge Gnabry's volley skidding off the turf and just over Hugo Lloris' crossbar.
A delayed offside flag denied Mbappe a spectacular solo strike in the 66th minute, before the Paris Saint-Germain star skipped beyond Hummels with ease.
To his credit, Hummels recovered with a last-ditch tackle, and though Benzema then had a goal on his major tournament comeback disallowed, three-time champions Germany failed to make their good fortune count.
What does it mean? Favourites make their case, but Germany look in need of refreshment
Deschamps is looking to become the first person ever to win the World Cup and the Euros as player and manager, and the 2016 runners-up made a statement of intent to begin a tough group campaign.
Low, meanwhile, will call time on his Germany tenure after the tournament, and it does seem to be the end of an era. He had initially tried to refresh the squad heading into Euro 2020, though after a year-long, pandemic-enforced delay, Germany's starting XI had an average age of 28 years and 347 days. The only older starting XI in a major tournament for Die Mannschaft came at Euro 2000 against Romania (30 years and 86 days).
Griezmann and Pogba prove their worth
With the emergence of Mbappe and Benzema's second coming, you would be forgiven for forgetting just how much Griezmann and Pogba add to France's set-up, but their qualities were on show for all to see at the Allianz Arena.
Working alongside the typically impressive N'Golo Kante, Pogba showed the kind of form he has only managed in flashes for Manchester United – his sublime pass in the build-up to France's winner one pertinent example. Griezmann, on the other hand, worked tirelessly to lead Les Bleus' press, with the Barcelona man also creating a game-high three chances.
Hummels' comeback goes awry
Hummels' Germany career looked set to be over, but Low called on one of his World Cup-winning stalwarts to help boost his chances of going out with a Euro success. However, on Tuesday's evidence, he might well have been ready to hang up his international boots.
The 32-year-old looked uneasy in Germany's back three, failing to deal with the pace and movement of France's frontline, with Mbappe enjoying a free run at him at times.
His own goal – a finish most strikers would have been proud of – summed up a display which perhaps signals Low's initial chain of thought was the right one. Remarkably, it is the third own goal of Euro 2020, already the joint-most with any edition of the tournament (level with Euro 2016).
Key Opta Facts
- Germany suffered defeat in their opening game of a European Championship for the first time, having won seven and drawn five of their previous 12 matches. Only one side has gone on to win the Euros after losing their opening game of a tournament – Netherlands back in 1988.
- France won their opening match of a European Championship for the sixth time, with only Germany (7) managing to do so more often. Indeed, the French have gone on to reach the final in three of the previous five tournaments they have started with a win, lifting the trophy in both 1984 and 2000 (runner-up in 2016).
- In what was only the 12th game at Euro 2020, the tournament has seen three own goals scored (Merih Demiral, Wojciech Szczesny and Mats Hummels), already the joint-most at any Euros (also three at Euro 2016).
- Germany have lost their last two games at the Euros, with both defeats coming against France. The Germans have had 28 shots across those two games without managing to score.
Germany are back at the Allianz Arena on Sunday, with Portugal the visitors. France take on Hungary in Budapest earlier in the day.