France are a better team than Germany - it's that simple. They were well worth that win and had they really gone for it they'd probably have won by more. Good luck stopping them, everyone else.
- 2nd Half
- 1st Half
- Hummels (o.g.)20'
France - Germany
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Full-time: France 1-0 Germany
France v Portugal will be a belter.
Neuer connects with a glorious punt - my gosh he catches that - but Varane, who's been really good, gets under it and heads away.
Germany have known this was finishing like this for a while, but they're still fighting the good fight. Can punches a decent ball to Sane, out on the left ... and he larrups a cross a fair way past everyone.
Now Rabiot goes off, with Dembele replacing him. The first time I saw Dembele, I was convinced he was going to be a superstar, which hasn't quite happened yet. But it's in him, if he's well nurtured while staying fit.
They show us the VAR shot - Mbappe was clearly offside.
Can slips a ball between two men for Sane, but as he looks to weave on the edge of the box, he's smothered by a phalanx of defenders.
Rabiot is back on.
Rabiot is led off looking bedraggled.
There'll be six added minutes.
Rabiot goes down, but the ref isn't having it. He's claming a head injury, so that's odd behaviour, and the medics come on for a look at him.
Muller turns up on the right and clumps a cross looking for Volland that's well beyond the back post.
Germany win a corner down the left ... and Kroos makes a right mess of it. Germany have created painfully little tonight, especially in the first half and the last 15 minutes.
Tolisso replaces Benzema.
Can replaces Ginter and Volland replaces Gosens.
NO GOAL! Mbappe was offside. In commentary, Ally McCoist thinks Pogba delayed on the pass, but I think he did really well to spin so his feet were where he needed them to be.
GOAL! France 2-0 Germany (Benzema) AND THERE IT IS! All half, France have looked likely to find a clincher on the counter, and there is it! Pogba works the ball clear, picks it up again and twizzles on halfway before sending Mbappe away. He flashes down the right and punches a low cross over to Benzema, who sweeps high into the net!
Griezmann wins a sliding challenge deep inside his own half. He's put in a shift tonight.
France are winning playing within themselves. That's a sobering thought for the rest of the field.
Germany have run out puff.
There's a lull and then suddenly France spring, Benzema hitting a heavy ball into space, aeons away from Mbappe. But he absolutely rrrrousts by Hummels - eeek! - only for Hummels to do brilliantly in getting back, a desperate sliding tackle erasing the opportunity. There are shouts for a penalty, but that was a great challenge and the ref, up with play, was well-placed to spot it.
I think that Portugal and England both have players more suited to breaking France down. And I type that, Kimmich hustles down the wing and bangs over a hopeful cross that is again easy for Lloris.
Werner chases a ball to the corner and Varane has to go with him ... but the resultant cross is a poor one and Lloris claims under no pressure.
Werner replaces Gnabry and Sane replaces Havertz. I'm surprised it's like for like at this point - I'd have taken off a midfielder, I think.
Ginter is down, which might allow Germany to make their changes.
Ultimately, a France clincher looks at least as likely as a Germany saviour.
Germany are getting men into the box now, but their attacking interplay hasn't been sharp enough. In fairness, France protect their defence really well with really good players, so picking through them is a problem for any team.
Sane will be with us presently.
Aaaarrrgggghhhh! Pogba dinks a ball over the top to Mbappe, who darts at Gosens. He shapes to go outside, to hit a curler, goes back inside, then outside, then inside, and with the defenders flummoxed, he punched a lush finish past Neuer, low inside the far post. What a player! Except Griezmann was offside when the initial pass was made, and he might've been too.
France have barely done anything but defend these last 10 minutes but here comes Kante, Clodoaldoing past three challenges in midfield before sending the ball wide. Benzema cuts across the box, looking to open an angle for a curler, but Rudgier blocks it at source.
Nice from Germany, Havertz and Gnabry combining to get Gosen towards the line. But Pavard smothers his cross and Lloris collects easily enough.
I don't entirely understand why France would invite a team of Germany's quality onto them - they've the players to dominate in midfield, and that sounds like a much safer option.
Havertz chases Hernandez, forcing him to play a ball he'd like to leave and winning a corner; it comes to nothing.
Hernandez is up and racing around the touchline to come back on. As it goes, that interruption was probably welcomed by France because Germany were finally building momentum.
Yeah, this is much better now, and here come Germany again, Kimmich racing to the line and reaching the ball, just, to clip an inviting ball to the far post. Pavard is underneath it, but the meaty Gosens charges in from the flank, leaps with no chance of getting a touch, arsing the defender in the coupon. He does well to escape a booking, or worse.
Here come Germany again, Varane and Kimpembe both making strong tackles inside the box before Gundogan sticks a pass in between keeper and Gnabry. Gnabry gets there first too, but Lloris is close enough to force him to turn away from goal and he can't catch up with the ball.
Benzema sticks a ball in behind Germany's high line and Mbappe sizzles after it, but with no one to help him, he has to go backwards.
This is livening up a bit now.
Gosens has been Germany's best player and slings over a delectable cross from the left, picking out Gnabry on the far side. He keeps his eye on the ball, but doesn't catch it right, funnelling his volley into the ground ... then watching it leap up and over the bar, just.
Out of nothing, Mbappe sticks Rabiot in behind! He cuts in from the left and has Griezmann in the middle, but the angle at with he comes gives him potential finishes into either corner. He picks the near post ... but clips the outside of the post! He might've been offside, as it turns out, though he wasn't to know.
Gundogan clips right to Kimmich, who lays back for Ginter. With nothing decent on, he clips a hopeful ball towards the far post, and Kimpembe clears easily.
Germany knock it about, while France defend in a 4-3-3. Germany are struggling to get anything going, and if I were Low I'd not be waiting much longer. There's no indication or reason to believe that chances are imminent.
At half-time, we saw Rudiger get up tight to Pogba, who very quickly complained to the officials. Watching the tape, there was a hint of teeth to back, but footage was inconclusive.
Mbappe isolates Hummels and whizzes by on the outside, but Hummels recovers well and blocks him off.
I wonder how long Jogi Low will wait before sending on Leroy Sane. Or maybe I'm projecting, because I suspect Werner will be his first change.
We go again...
That was an absorbing half, but one that didn't quite get going. The second half should be better though - stay with me for that.
Half-time: France 1-0 Germany
There'll be one added minute.
Germany are a bit pedestrian - they've got no pace or dribbling in midfield - and only two attackers. It's hard to pick a way through France in that circumstance.
Pogba is caught offside following a throw, so gets in the linesman's face, waggling his finger. The linesman was right and he's wrong.
France play like a team that expects to win. Germany are playing like a that's hoping to win.
And here comes Mbappe now, streaking down the left. But he decides to check and keep possession - I imagine France just want to see out the half now.
Germany are still having most of the ball, but France clearly back themselves on the counter.
Kimmich lofts over Hernandez, who throws various parts of his body in the road so he can't get by. Hernandez then levers him to the ground via face, and when Kimmich lunges at the ball, he catches Hernandez in the face. Hernandez duly goes down in a fuss, but the ref refuses to show Kimmich a second yellow card.
Gosens, who's been dangerous, sprints down the left, catches up with the ball and lashes it towards the box. The cross is deflected, but facing the goalline, Gnabry cleverly hooks it back over his shoulder for Gundogan. But with Kante rushing him, his half-hit half-volley scuttles wide.
Griezmann slips Mbappe in down the left and he screeches past some unlucky patsy - Kimmich I think - but when he hits the line, he can't pick out Benzema with his cut-back, Ginter putting the ball behind. The corner comes to nothing.
Germany are actually having more of the ball at the moment, Kroos looking to slip in behind for Gnabry. But Griezmann - what's he doing back there - reads it on the edge of the box, and Varane tidies up.
We've been playing 34 minutes and Germany have created pretty much nowt.
Talking of Rabiot, I'm not having him as one of France's best eleven players. Tolisso would give them much more.
Germany pass out of defence nicely, but Gundogan's attempted killer ball, in behind the French line, is intercepted by Rabiot who clears.
Pogba begins a move with a flick and France work the ball forward nicely, but Germany close off the space well and in the end Kimpembe clumps an aimless pass into touch.
The balance of play has been fairly even so far. The difference is the brilliant vision and touch of Paul Pogba.
...but this time he curls high and wide.
Muller nips past Pogba, who extends a go-go Gadget leg and trips him. He avoids a card, but Germany have a further free-kick, right of centre this time and a bit further out. Toni Kroos fancies this...
Gosens moves inside and finds a yard, arcing a ball over the top for Havertz ... who can't quite tame it with a leaping touch.
...but he curls his shot into the top of the wall and away.
Gundogan runs at Kante, feinting right and going left, making sure to catch a trailing leg. Free-kick Germany, few yards outside the D, left of centre. Toni Kroos fancies this...
Hummels was really slow to adjust his feet there, but he was put in an invidious position by excellent work from both Pogba - his imagination is special - and Hernandez.
GOAL! France 1-0 Germany (Hummels own goal) Pogba picks up possession left of centre, and with everyone expecting a ball through to Mbappe, he instead wedges a gorgeous cross-kick that picks out Hernandez on the burst, left side of the box. He leaps and volleys a cross into the ground as hard as he can ... and it's going to find Mbappe ... until Hummels', who has to do something, finds his feet tied in a granny knot, freeing one to hump past Neuer.
This has livened up the last few minutes.
Mbappe takes the ball on the left and cuts in, opening the nagle to bend towards the far post ... but it's not hard enough of high enough to trouble Neuer. who dives to shove away.
Ye've gottae score! Griezmann's corner is excellent, picking out Pogba in the middle - he's got in front of Rudiger. He gets up well too, but misses with his head, instead shouldering over the bar. Poor, and not especially surprising - Pogba's improved his defensive headers a lot. But with his athleticism and anticipation, he should score more - chances like that, for example.
Better from France, Kante driving forward and playing a delicious give-and-go with Pavard. He drives towards the box at inside-right, getting a bit of luck when a return ball is blocked back to him - luck he uses by playing his man in down the line. The eventuating cross, low and hard, is a goodun, so Ginter slides it behind.
Gosens, who played superbly last week against Latvia, humps a moon ball forward, but Muller was offside.
Havertz dallies in possession and Pogba robs him, a classic poacher-turned-gamekeeper move. He finds Benzema, whose pass out left to Hernandez is undercooked.
With only two strikers, it's no surprise that Germany aren't pressing France's back four in possession. They're looking to win it back in midfield and go from there.
Griezmann plays forward to Mbappe, but when the ball comes back to him he gives it away. He's not quite improved in the way we hoped he would - he's been a big disappointment at Barca, but his best is still very handy.
It takes them a few goes but Germany eventually get the ball forward, playing off Havertz, then Kimmich darts a high ball towards Muller, intercepted by Kimpembe.
Germany looks pretty confident out there, but France are cutting off their passes into midfield pretty well.
Daniel back, just in time to report that Kimmich was booked for an offence I didn't see. He's now got 85+ minutes of Mbappe, knowing that if he fouls him he could be off.
Cagey enough start here from both sides as they feel each other out. Kante is being his usual intelligent and excellent self, snuffing out the ball here and there to disrupt any German momentum.
So, Portugal’s late show that saw them bag a +3 goal difference after their match against Hungary puts renewed importance on this clash. Read about that below.
And we are off!
Dan Harris’ internet is on the blink but he will be back imminently.
Right people, my wife was on a call which has now ended, resulting in my eviction from lounge to office. I'll be back in about five minutes, so in the meantime here's France winning the Henri Delaunay in 1984.
Just a little while ago, Portugal saw off Hungary with three late goals. Naturally, he scored two of them, and what a big win that was cannot be overstated. Had it been drawn, Portugal would probably have needed at least two points from their games against tonight's teams in order to qualify. Now, they might be there already and one more draw will put it beyond doubt.
That Brazil win was greatest international match I've ever seen, and by far. During lockdown, Fifa put the whole 120 minutes plus penalties on YouTube. I promise you it's worth your time.
And West Germany did it again in 1986. This match was one of the great disappointments - France looked done-in after their quarter-final win over Brazil.
As you may have heard, these sides had a fair old tussle at the 1982 World Cup.
But what about the match-up? Well the formations - and quality - mean we might see something quite narrow and stuffy, so if either side can get it going down the sides they're in business. Two strikers is one way of messing with a three at the back, so France will be hoping for joy there, and I'm certain Mbappe will be trying to get down the side of Hummels, who wasn't quick at his peak. Germany will be looking for overloads on the flanks and in the box.
Germany, meanwhile, send out the team that battered Latvia last week, which seems fair enough. I wonder whether Kroos will be the right man in the big games - and there's not a lot of pace next to him either - but Goretzka is injured in any event. At the back, they've gone for safety in numbers, and will need the wing-backs to contribute plenty in attack, both in terms of progressing the ball and creating chances; if Havertz and Gnabry are served properly, they'll be an absolute nightmare for an defence.
Er, both sides line up as expected. France appear set on their diamond now - it gets in the most good players, but asks a lot of the full-backs in terms of supplying the width, perhaps limits Ngolo Kante, and can result in too many players ahead of the ball. Thing is, it's hard to see this side failing to score at least twice in any game, and the return of Benzema will make a huge difference. Ultimately, this is a very scary team.
So what does it all mean?
Let's have some teams!
It's not right to say the tournament starts properly tonight - Netherlands v Ukraine, Spain v Sweden and Hungary v Portugal were classics of their genre - but it's not far wrong either. Our match completes the first round - after it, we'll have seen every team play - but more than that, it's the first between two traditional powers, who also happen to be two of the best teams around and the last two world champions.
France are the competition favourites and with good reason. Their squad is ludicrous collection of ludicrously brilliant footballers, they've been together for a while and know that they can do it. Their defence is suboptimal, and watching them comes with the frequent frustration that they should be better. But if they find their best form, it's over.
That rarely happens though, and Germany have the players to give anyone grief. They lack a scorer and their defence is suss, but their midfield is packed with dons and, in Kai Havertz, they have a talent primed to explode. They've looked good in friendlies, and on a good day can beat anyone.
In a sense, this is a strange affair. Thirty-six games to eliminate just eight teams means that even tonight's losers will expect to reach the knockouts, but winning the group means a better draw, while third might be better than second.
Anyway, enough about what's to come: let's immerse in what's already here. Come on!
Goodness me. IT'S FRANCE v GERMANY!