Created on 04-07-2014 at 20:05 PM
A Germany team with six Bayern stars in the starting line-up showed huge reserves of endurance and resilience to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the fourth time in a row thanks to a 1-0 victory over France in Friday’s last eight clash. Former Munich youth Mats Hummels headed the match-winning goal from a 13th-minute Toni Kroos free-kick.
“It wasn't easy today. It was brutally hot. But yet again we were a united team, and that's the most important thing,” commented captain Philipp Lahm. Jérôme Boateng praised a performance full of grit and determination: “We gave it everything from the first minute to the last. We're looking forward to the semi-final now. I think we can be proud. Our target has to be the final.”
Coach Joachim Löw reverted to the formation that took his team to third spot at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Lahm resumed duty at right-back, and Boateng lined up at centre-half ahead of keeper Manuel Neuer. Bastian Schweinsteiger joined forces with Sami Khedira in holding midfield. Thomas Müller switched from a central attacking role to the right, creating space for ex-FCB star Miroslav Klose as a conventional centre-forward. Kroos slotted in behind the front men. A seventh Bayern player entered the fray with 83 minutes played when Mario Götze came on as a late sub.
Evenly-matched European giants
As expected, the teams largely cancelled each other out in the blazing heat of the legendary Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. Following the opener from Hummels, who converted the Kroos set play with the back of his head off the underside of the bar, Germany had the better of the game but failed to create clear-cut chances before half-time. The French threatened sporadically with Neuer called into action to save from Mathieu Valbuena in the 34th minute, before the keeper acrobatically turned aside danger man Karim Benezma’s 44th-minute effort.
Didier Deschamps’ men came out fighting after the break and looked the physically stronger team with Benzema an ever-present threat, but Boateng and Hummels stood firm. Raphael Varane (60) and Blaise Matuidi (79) failed to beat Neuer and the Germans began to fashion chances on the break as time went on, only for Müller (82) and sub André Schürrle (82, 88) to be denied. In the fourth minute of time added on Benzema burst through down the left but Neuer threw out a hand to salvage the narrow win and earn his team a place in the last four, where they will face either Brazil or Colombia next Tuesday.