Germany v France: Muller not scared by impressive host

Thomas Muller insists Germany is "not scared" of France and dismissed its five-goal haul in the quarterfinals as being partly due to poor Iceland defending.


Thomas Muller is confident that his team can combat France in the semifinals.

Thomas Muller insists Germany is "not scared" of France and dismissed its five-goal haul in the quarterfinals as being partly due to poor Iceland defending.

The world champions take on the Euro 2016 hosts at the semifinal stage in Marseille on Thursday with France looking to demonstrate again the firepower which saw the team beat the tournament surprise package 5-2 at the weekend.

And while Muller – who is yet to score at the Euros – has respect for France, and its offensive players in particular, he is confident Joachim Loew's men can find a way to combat them.

> Read: Deschamps urges France to create own history

"We are not scared of them. We've seen the videos and we know that France have got many good individuals," he said.

"The goals they've scored against Iceland were individually very nice, but the Icelandic defence didn't look too good.

"We are focused on not letting their strikers get near our box.''

"France didn't reach the semifinals just by luck. They did it because they have good players. We have respect, but we,re optimistic that we will find the right solutions."

Germany is without injured duo Mario Gomez (hamstring) and Sami Khedira (groin), while Bastian Schweinsteiger is battling to overcome a knee problem. Defender Mats Hummels is suspended.

> Read: Schweinsteiger will start against France, confirms Loew

The absences have led Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff to declare his side the underdogs.

He said: "I see France as small favourites now.''

"They did not have to play 120 minutes in the quarterfinals, they will play in front of 62,000 of their own fans in Marseille and we have several missing players, not least those who are already at home like Antonio Rudiger, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus.''

> Read: Paris solidarity won't matter in semifinal: Loew

"However, we don't have a skeleton team left now. We have players who are ready to go. The team has improved over the course of the tournament. We are ready for that match."

Germany beat France 1-0 at the quarterfinal stage at the World Cup two years ago thanks to a Hummels header, but Les Bleus midfielder Moussa Sissoko believes Didier Deschamps' side has evolved since then.

The Newcastle United man said: "We have grown at all levels, defensively, in midfield and attack.''

"We have not conceded many goals in this competition and we have shown our many qualities in attack. We will try to keep this momentum going."

If France is to win, it will have to find a way past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, of whom Sissoko is a big fan.

"He is the best goalkeeper in the world," he added. "We must make decisions quickly in front of goal and try to be more accurate. We know he also plays the sweeper role and it will be up to us to pay attention."

  Key Opta Stats:
- France has never kept a clean sheet in its four meetings with Germany at major finals tournaments.
- Germany has reached the semifinals in each of its last six major tournaments (WC 2006, Euro 2008, WC 2010, Euro 2012, WC 2014, Euro 2016), the longest ever run for a European team.
- Germany has won its last six penalty shoot-outs at major tournaments. Its only failure in this exercise came 40 years ago, in the final of EURO 1976 against Czechoslovakia.
- France is unbeaten in its last 17 major tournament games played on home soil, winning 15 and drawing two. Its last defeat dates back to July 1960 in the inaugural European Championships against Czechoslovakia (0-2).
- France is the top scorers at Euro 2016 with 11 goals in five games. 
- Antoine Griezmann has scored/assisted more goals than any other player at EURO 2016 (4 goals, 2 assists).

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