International friendly preview: Germany v France
One of Europe’s great rivalries resumes when Germany host old adversaries France in a friendly in Bremen on Wednesday.
Even without the injured Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker, Mario Goetze and captain Philipp Lahm, German boss Joachim Loew still has one of the most talented young squads in Europe at his disposal.
Captain Lahm has withdrawn from Germany’s squad with a knee injury while Borussia Dortmund’s Sven Bender is almost certain to join him after suffering a kick to the face in his side’s 3-1 victory over Hannover in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Starlets Marco Reus (Borussia Moenchengladbach) and Andre Schuerrle (Bayer Leverkusen) should see game time and complement a midfield that already contains Real Madrid duo Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil.
After ten straight wins to qualify for Euro 2012, Germany will head to the tournament as one of the favourites along with Spain, while Wednesday’s clash with Laurent Blanc’s transformed French side should prove an interesting preliminary test.
France qualified top of Group D by a point from Bosnia and Herzegovina but Blanc must weigh up his options for the trip to Germany after losing Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Marseille’s Loic Remy to injury.
He has called up Remy’s 26-year-old team-mate Morgan Amalfitano and welcomed Tottenham striker Louis Saha back into the international frame for what could be his 20th international appearance.
Blanc will also be pleased to welcome back AC Milan defender Philippe Mexes after he returned straight to the starting 11 in his club’s Serie A match with leaders Juventus on Saturday.
“Philippe is a lad who I count on enormously. He has a different skill-set to other defenders,” Blanc said.
France have enjoyed the better of the sides’ previous 23 encounters over the past 81 years, with 10 victories to Germany’s seven.
However the Germans have traditionally got the better of their neighbouts in major tournaments, winning in both the 1982 and 1986 World Cup semi-finals.