In Focus: Experienced Germans out to stop French breaking more new ground
Neighbours Germany and France meet in an intriguing second Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final on Wednesday evening.
Stadium MK is the venue as the two nations battle it out for the right to face England in Sunday’s showpiece at Wembley.
We take a look at whether eight-time champions Germany or semi-final newbies France will take on the rampant hosts.
Regulars vs newbies
France and Germany are two of the most successful European nations in the men’s game, but that is not the case in the women's.
Les Bleues' extra-time victory over the Netherlands meant they finally broke their quarter-final curse.
Previously they had lost at the last eight stage in 2009, 2013 and 2017, as well as at the 2015 and 2019 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Germany, meanwhile, have won the tournament eight times, including an astonishing six in a row between 1995 and 2013.
But they are itching to put a shock quarter-final exit to eventual finalists Denmark in 2017 right this time around.
Ranked No3 in the world, France have been one of the most exciting sides to watch at this tournament.
They attack with pace and have threats all over the pitch, from dangerous Lyon star Delphine Cascarino to Grace Geyoro, who scored a first-half hat-trick against Italy in their opening game.
German boss Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said: "We know that France have tremendous quality in transition and fantastic individual players with a lot of pace."
And she will be wary of them, given they are a better side than Austria, who caused the German’s plenty of problems in their quarter-final encounter.
But they must find a more ruthless edge after having more than 30 shots against the Dutch, yet relying on a Eve Perisset penalty in extra-time to progress.
It sounds like a lazy stereotype, yet this German side are ruthlessly efficient.
France skipper Wendie Renard said: "We know the German mentality, we know their squad.
"They’ve shown what they can do every time they’ve played. They are a great team with great players. We’ll have to be efficient at both ends of the pitch."
They are the only side in the tournament not to concede a goal, and despite winger Klara Buhl missing out with coronavirus, have a team full of class.
The midfield trio of Lena Oberdorf, Sara Dabritz and Lina Magull are arguably the best in the tournament and there is plenty of experience of knockout games in the squad.
Too close to call
"It’s going to be a game of equals," said Voss-Tecklenburg — and it is hard to disagree with her.
Though France are yet to beat the Germans in four competitive games, losing three in normal time and one on penalties, they have closed the gap.
If Voss-Tecklenburg's side are as loose at the back as they were at times in their quarter-final, France are more likely to punish them.
But Corinne Diacre's outfit cannot let themselves get overawed by the occasion and what is at stake.
If they do, their opponents will take advantage and set up a tantalising England vs Germany final at Wembley.
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