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Germany-France: five questions on a historic poster… but apparently unbalanced

Special correspondent in Dortmund.

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Germany-France: five questions on a historic poster… but apparently unbalanced

Special correspondent in Dortmund

From an accounting point of view, it is zero: it is within the framework of a friendly match that the Blues challenge Germany in Dortmund this Tuesday (9 p.m., on TF1). But it is impossible to act as if a Germany-France match is a match like any other... You only need to have attended the pre-match press conferences to realize that. On the German side, the crisis is brewing, the atmosphere is heavy and the selection is under immense pressure. With the myth of Seville 1982 and the numerous clashes between the two selections, this meeting between two of the greatest footballing nations leaves no one indifferent. The most experienced are still marked by this Homeric night while the youngest have in mind the quarter-final of the 2014 World Cup lost by the Blues in Brazil or the half of Euro 2016 won in a melting Vélodrome.

This Tuesday, in a Westfalenstadion (81,000 seats) which will not be full, Didier Deschamps' men will want to undermine their long-time rival, nine months before the planned European Championship... in Germany. Undefeated since their defeat against Tunisia during the 3rd World Cup group match (0-1), with the hairdressers, last November in Qatar, and solid leaders of their qualifying group, the French would not be against hitting a big blow in front of Germans who are difficult to see. The clash seems unbalanced given the current form of the two teams, but the measure still calls for vigilance on the French side. From an individual point of view, Kylian Mbappé could equal, or even surpass, a certain Michel Platini in the ranking of the top scorers for the France team. 40 achievements for the current captain of the Blues, 41 to the credit of the 1984 European champion.

The Blues coach repeated it, the only meeting he did not want to miss during this September gathering was the reception of Ireland (2-0) last Thursday at the Parc des Princes. Mission successful and ticket for Euro 2024 (June 14-July 14) almost in your pocket. In Germany this Tuesday, the French team will have a completely different face than that seen in Paris to extinguish the Irish. Five changes, maybe six, should be made. Benjamin Pavard, William Saliba, Eduardo Camavinga, Kingsley Coman and Randal Kolo Muani left to replace Jules Koundé, Lucas Hernandez, Adrien Rabiot, Ousmane Dembélé and Olivier Giroud, the latter having withdrawn after an ankle injury against Ireland . A doubt remains around Dayot Upamecano, who was content to run on Monday on the eve of the match, and could give way to Jean-Clair Todibo in a hinge which would be experimental.

Le onze probable des BleusMaignan – Pavard, Saliba, Upamecano (ou Todibo), T. Hernandez – Tchouaméni, Camavinga – Coman, Griezmann, Mbappé – Kolo Muani

At worst. The crisis is deep and the criticism numerous, so much so that the federation dismissed Hansi Flick on Sunday (Rudi Völler, sports director, will act as interim) after the catastrophic defeat against Japan (1-4) on Saturday evening. None of the ten predecessors of the former Bayern Munich technician had been dismissed in this way. A first in the history of the quadruple world champions (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014). Monday evening, the atmosphere was gloomy in the press room for the media meetings.

Eliminated in the first round of the last two World Championships, the Germans are no longer a big name on the world stage. Except their name and their track record. They no longer frighten and, above all, the reasons for hope are not legion. Since the departure of Miroslav Klose in 2014, no striker worthy of the name has come to replace him. A sign of a starving reservoir, it is Kai Havertz, a firefighter on duty but anything but a specialist in the position, who occupies this function. In the middle and in defense, Gündogan and Kimmich appear alone. The Mannschaft, which remains on three defeats in a row and has only won one match in six in 2023, is a nation adrift which simply dreams of not taking a volley this Tuesday evening against the Blues. A new disappointment would have a very bad effect nine months before the Euro in front of its public. Proof of the Germans' disavowal of their nation, the poster against France will not even be full.

In a France group which gives the impression of having perfectly managed the retirement of certain captains (Lloris, Varane, Benzema), without forgetting the long-term absence of other executives (Kanté, Pogba), the places are expensive and the hard core for the Euro is already almost known, barring injury or poor form. The opportunities to show off are not legion and the main stakeholders must take advantage of them. This is the case of William Saliba, expected in the starting role on Tuesday evening. The Arsenal defender (22 years old, 9 caps), in good shape with the Gunners, has every interest in getting up to speed in the hinge that he would have to compose with Upamecano (or Todibo). In an ultra-competitive gaming sector (Hernandez, Kimpembe, Disasi, Fofana, etc.), a consistent performance in Germany would weigh heavily on his CV with a view to the next summer meeting. “Some have every interest in responding,” breathes Deschamps, who is counting on this meeting to test the Gunner. If he starts, Todibo will also clearly fit into the box of internationals who are playing big for a place at the end of the bench at the Euro.

Well established with the Blues, it will be interesting to see the behavior of Benjamin Pavard on the right, he who prefers the axis. Just like that of Eduardo Camavinga, relaunched in a duo with his friend and teammate at Real Madrid Aurélien Tchouaméni. On the right side, Kingsley Coman (50 caps, 5 goals), must also show that he has the ability to be more decisive.

Why will the Völler-Deschamps reunion make a nice nod to history?

It's a time that those under 20 cannot experience... Didier Deschamps and Rudi Völler probably did not foresee this at the start of the September gathering. But they know very well that football can sometimes go very quickly. Sports director of Germany, the 1990 world champion (90 caps, 47 goals), now aged 60, will be present on the bench as interim coach after the dismissal of Hansi Flick on Sunday afternoon. Faced with the emergency situation, he will challenge his former Marseille partner with whom he won the Champion Clubs' Cup in 1993 under the colors of OM. Attacking on the Canebière between 1992 and 1994, Völler left a beautiful memory in French football and his reunion with “DD” will be a nice nod before the match.

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