Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016: Let's make history by ending Germany curse, says Didier Deschamps

Watchful eye: Didier Deschamps takes France training ahead of the Euro 2016 semi-final clash with Germany
Watchful eye: Didier Deschamps takes France training ahead of the Euro 2016 semi-final clash with Germany

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Didier Deschamps has urged his France team to "write history" tonight against Germany in their European Championship semi-final in Marseille.

France have not beaten Germany in a knock-out game since the 1958 World Cup but at the Stade Velodrome have a chance to put themselves into the final for which they would be strong favourites.

Deschamps captained France to the 1998 World Cup and he knows how poor the French record is against the Germans. They were knocked out of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups by their neighbours at the semi-final stage, as well as at the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup.

"No one can change history, but there are some new chapters to be written and the players can write them," Deschamps said. "This page is currently blank and they need to fill it."

Deschamps promised that France would play on the front foot against the World champions - who beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in the group stage - rather than sitting deep and trying to frustrate them.

"They are still the best side in the world, but we're really going to give it everything," Deschamps said. "Germany are used to dominating, but we can't go out there thinking about defending before trying to catch them out."

This German team is ahead of France in their development, with proof coming in that World Cup triumph two years ago.

Hugo Lloris, the France captain, was in goal the day Germany beat them 1-0 in the quarter-finals in Brazil and he said yesterday that the team has grown since then.

"It's not only the quarter-final against Germany that allowed us to grow, it's the whole World Cup," Lloris said.

"We came up against a stronger team, a team with more experience and one that had success in the end. Our team has grown and gained experience. Some players have gone up levels and have become fixtures in the French side. The only truth is on the field. That is where we'll find out where we are."

Bastian Schweinsteiger will lead Germany onto the field for the semi-final after being passed fit.

The Manchester United midfielder was a doubt due to an injury he aggravated in the penalty shoot-out win over Italy, but Germany coach Joachim Low confirmed at a press conference yesterday that he is fit and will start.

"I have the team in my head and Bastian will start," Low stated.

"I always said that if he trains 100 per cent without complaints then he will play.

"He trained this morning and had no complaints. The injury is cured and he showed against Italy he's got the strength to play from the start, and I believe he's very, very important, particularly in such a game - his experience is very valuable.

"We have three players - Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and Mats Hummels - to replace, which is not easy, and this is why it is important that an experienced player like Bastian starts."

Low also stressed how important it will be for his side to be clinical, something they may find difficult without Gomez.

"Both teams have good quality and who shows this and makes fewer mistakes and takes their chances will win," he said. "We're going to be the toughest opponents France have had to face. We're going to put everything into reaching the final."

Belfast Telegraph