Monday, July 6, 2020

and realism changed sides

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Posted today at 6:00 am

For them, it is first a semi-final to be won against the reigning world champions. Seville 1982 … you are very kind with your memories of veterans against these bad Germans, but that speaks as much to these young adults as the debacle of Sedan in 1870! Not a Blue was born yet on July 8, 1982, except for a Patrice Evra who was still uncomfortable standing up from the height of his 14 months. And then, even poor Patrick Battiston tires of narrating his meeting with the raised knee of Harald Schumacher.

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Faced with this new wave of nostalgia, as in 2014 before the lost quarterfinal of the World Cup in Brazil, some ask to change discs. "Let go of us with Seville, enjoins Release in an angry post, this July 7, 2016. Let us go with the most worn clichés. No, the Germans are not peak helmets. "

Yes, but the Mannschaft is not like any other adversary either. Even ignored in its details, history still infuses heads and jerseys, in football, also have weight. Like it or not, Germany is something other than Iceland, revelation of this Euro, swept away in the previous round by the French (5-2).

By finishing first in their group, Didier Deschamps' men opened the road to a semi-final in Marseille, like the Platini generation thirty-two years earlier against Portugal. A happy omen. Organizing a tournament offers some privileges. As in 1984, the Vélodrome is bubbling and resuming The Marseillaise as one man, minus the 20,000 German supporters, no slouch to push the decibels.

A hand that changes everything

This semi-final, whatever may be said about it, will be worth a lot by its atmosphere and its historical importance. France does not beat Germany every day in an official match. The last victory dates back to 1958 and a small World Cup final (6-3); almost a match for butter. Except for Just Fontaine, author of a quadruple, which allows him to freeze his goal record – promised for eternity – in this competition of thirteen units.

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No tennis score this time. At the end of an intense match, if not spectacular, France eliminates a Germany (2-0) who nevertheless thinks they have dominated the debates. Like the Belgians versus the Blues two years later in Russia, the Maanschaft held the ball with 65% of possession. And like the Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in 2018, Joachim Löw, the German coach – fort on this statistic – estimated that the best had not won. "In 2008, 2010 or 2012, we lost to stronger teams than us but that was not the case tonight", he says.

Perhaps. But the Blues unveil in Marseille a quality that will prove decisive in their glorious Russian campaign in 2018: that of giving the opponent the illusion of dominating, but giving him few opportunities. And there are these famous details.

Those who change your destiny, like this arm of Bastian Schweinsteiger countering the ball taken over by Patrice Evra at the very end of the first half. It is all a matter of chance sometimes (the defender almost never went up on a corner) and interpretation, that of an Italian referee, M. Rizzolli, who indicates the penalty point (to the surprise of the French) when others would have passed the sponge.

"We didn’t do it on purpose to let them have the ball"

Cold as justice, Antoine Griezmann executes the sanction. "Grizou", said to be out of shape, uninspired at the start of the tournament, all because of a failed first against Romania. Since then, Atletico Madrid's striker has taken over from a levitating Dimitri Payet in the first round.

Decisive against Ireland and Iceland, he is the right man. Like when it comes to pushing into the back of the net a ball badly fisted by Manuel Neuer after a cross from Paul Pogba, preceded by a passing of legs worthy of the Bolshoi.

Antoine Griezmann, July 7, 2016, in Marseille.

At 2-0, the case is folded. The Germans have too sterile domination. "No, we didn't intentionally let them have the ball, recognizes forward André-Pierre Gignac, who entered late in the game to play the first defenders. In the technical sequences, their way of playing in the intervals, they are so strong that you are forced to let them have the ball. "

Good prince, Löw recognizes the merits of the Blues, whose resilience coupled with cold realism also makes great teams. "I think France will win against Portugal", he ventures. But a certain Eder is about to avenge a whole country for the painful memories of the eliminations of 1984, 2000 and 2006 by France. This week in July 2016 is a good time to settle your accounts with the ghosts of the past.

Find our Top 30 matches that marked the Euro

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