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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 26 May, 2015

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WELCOME TO THE quarter finals of the World Cup. We’re back in the hot-seat after a dubious 48-hour ban from all footballing activities that we, quite frankly, flaunted. 

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Good evening. Patrick McCarry here to kick us off before Eoin goes updates crazy for your reading/viewing/absorbing pleasure. We’ll start off with the team news…

GERMANY: Neuer, Howedes, Hummels, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Klose, Muller, Lahm (c), Kroos, Boateng.

FRANCE: Lloris (c), Debuchy, Evra, Varane, Sakho, Cabaye, Valbuena, Benzema, Griezmann, Matuidi, Pogba.

The big news is Miroslav Klose making his first start of the World Cup finals in a game which could see him become the all-time top scorer in tournament history. Phillip Lahm is starting at right-back too. #natural

1 min - An un-Jogi long ball pumped up the left wing to get us started. Let’s get some early predictions in. Who do you think will be the first goalscorer? Winner will be lauded by us on Twitter.

3 mins - Not sure I’ve seen a French player pass the ball yet. Clearances and tavkles, yes. Passes? Scarce. Germany dictating early pace.

Okay, handing you over to the dashing, bespectacled Eoin O’Callaghan now. Go well. Go France!

8 mins - Thanks, Pat. Hello everyone. Traffic delays, eh? Is it just me or when it rains does everyone lose the ability to drive properly? Anyway…there’s a game on, isn’t there? Benzema has had a good chance. Good work on the left and a lovely dinked cross from Valbuena finds him. The side-footed volley goes narrowly wide of the near post. Neuer had it covered but it was a decent opportunity.

Thanks to Barry for a great update below. Apparently he’s flying over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a tough life. It’s rainy and miserable in Dublin. So there.

13 mins – GOAL! Hummels!

From the left wing, Toni Kroos whips in a superb in-swinging free-kick. Hummels, who missed the Algeria game due to illness, holds off Varane to rise up and send a powerful header past Lloris.

http://vine.co/v/MUdxHgLtFtP

Well, that’s a brilliant start for the Germans. It’s Hummels’ second goal of the tournament and he did really well to out-muscle Varane. Phil Neville thought the young centre-back could’ve done better. Thoughts?

This has been an excellent display from Germany so far. They’ve kept the ball incredibly well and restricted the space, especially in the middle. It’s very tight for France to try and engineer an opening.

25 mins - Klose goes down in the box after a tug on his shirt by Debuchy. He goes down quite theatrically and Nestor Pitana waves away the appeals.

To answer paperboy’s question below…A quick count and I’m going for 10 penalties scored so far at this World Cup. I’ll double check and confirm.

34 mins – VERY CLOSE! Lovely move from France – their first in a long time. Griezmann makes a run into the right channel and sends in great cross towards the far post. Valbuena runs onto it and from a difficult angle gets a shot in. It’s well-struck and heading across Neuer but the keeper gets a strong hand to it and pushes it away. Hummels challenges Benzema on the rebound and it’s deflected over for a corner.

44 mins – CLOSE! Pogba breaks through one challenge deep in his own half and bounds forward with menace. He sends a superb diagonal ball into the left channel for Benzema and the attacker cuts inside, shakes off a tackle, gets the shot in…but it’s straight at Neuer. Much better from France in the last few minutes though.

HALF-TIME! Delicately poised and Germany were impressive early on. As the half progressed though, the French did find some gaps and Pogba has been impressive. Turning the half-chances into something more concrete and they’re still very much in this.

I see a reference to ESPN’s Tommy Smyth in the comments section. He’s always capable of delivering a memorable line or two. But recently, the Louth man outdid himself.


And we’re back underway here! Chances of extra-time and penalties? Can France find a way back? Who’s your money on?

46 mins - Griezmann is taken down in the area. In real-time, it didn’t look by much but on the replay,  Schweinsteiger seems to swipe a leg across him from behind. Griezmann didn’t make anything of it though. If he did…

On the Beeb, Lawro has just used the phrase ‘two threes and a six’ to describe a decision that could’ve gone either way. We’ve all heard ‘six of one, half a dozen of the other’ or even ‘six and two threes’ but it was a slightly strange arrangement from him. Anyway…

54 mins – Brilliant from Griezmann who picks it up in his own half and counters with terrific pace. A lovely nutmeg gets him motoring and he’s cynically pulled back by Khedira who deservedly gets booked.

60 mins – CLOSE! Matuidi does really well to get on the overlap down the left and he burns his way to the box. He tries to pick out Benzema but Schweinsteiger gets back to challenge and it goes out for a corner. Moments later, after the delivery is half-cleared, Cabaye’s cross is sent towards goal by Varane but Neuer is well-placed to grab it at his near post.

We’re getting to the stage where substitutions are inevitable. Here’s another look at both benches.

Germany subs: Zieler, Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Ginter, Schurrle, Podolski, Draxler, Durm, Mertesacker, Gotze, Kramer.

France subs: Ruffier, Landreau, Cabella, Giroud, Mavuba, Mangala, Sagna, Digne, Sissoko, Remy, Koscielny, Schneiderlin.

So, if you were Didier Deschamps, what change would you make? Remy’s pace?

69 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Schurrle (on) – Klose (off)

The veteran striker won’t break the World Cup goalscoring record in this game. Felt Schurle was desperately unlucky not to get a start here. He’s been very impressive when introduced at this tournament. Maybe he can spark Germany back to life.

71 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Koscielny (on) – Sakho (off)

Perhaps not the change we were expecting from France but he played a really loose pass moments ago and he’s not had the best of games. Looked pretty jaded.

73 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Remy (on) – Cabaye (off)

That’s more like it.

77 mins – CLOSE! Some great pressure from France here. Firstly, Hummels makes a superb block as Benzema was just about to pull the trigger. Then, moments later, another cross to the far post is picked up by Matuidi and he drives it towards goal but Neuer stands up and sticks his fists up to punch it away.  

82 mins – VERY CLOSE! Germany bolt forward on the counter attack with Ozil scampering down the left. He cuts it back for Muller who can’t quite stretch for it but still gets a touch that helps it towards Schurrle, arriving at the back post. It’s on his left foot and he tries to side-foot it to the far corner but doesn’t make decent contact and it’s very close to Lloris who blocks with his leg. France need to be careful here.

83 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Götze (on) – Ozil (off)

85 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Giroud (on) – Valbuena (off)

Well, they have to go for it. Everything will become just a little bit more direct now but it’s hard to see a late rally. France haven’t created many clear-cut chances. But, there could be some late drama.

88 mins – CLOSE! Another break from Germany with Evra left on his backside. Muller gets past him and sends in the cross for Schurrle but Varane makes a superb block, getting the ball high into the chest for his troubles. That’s sure to hurt.

92 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Kramer (on) – Kroos (off)

94 mins – VERY CLOSE! Almost a dramatic equaliser. Benzema is slipped in after a neat one-two and from a difficult angle on the left of the area, he smacks the shot towards the near post. Neuer sticks up a glove and makes a relatively comfortable stop. Thought Benzema could have driven it low across the six yard area and hope for a touch but he was brave enough to take the shot on.

FULL-TIME! “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” It was quite a timid clash, really. No side created many decent opportunities and even the winning goal came from a set-piece. But it took a while for France to really push hard. When they opened themselves up, Germany had a litany of counter attacks and really should’ve put the game beyond any doubt. As it turned out, Benzema did have a late, late chance to level but Neyer stood up and stuck out a strong hand.

Germany move on. But France can feel like they’ve brought some much needed pride back to their football team. Four years ago, there was chaos and embarrassment. Remember, Euro 2016 will be held in France and with these young players having got a big tournament under their belts, they’ll feel confident of putting on a decent show there.

Thanks for staying with us. More reaction and analysis to come.

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