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Football

France test Euro 2016 credentials against Germany

Coach Joachim Loew led Germany to the World Cup title in 2014
Coach Joachim Loew led Germany to the World Cup title in 2014 Reuters/Michael Dalder

The last time the French and German sides met was in the last eight at the 2014 World Cup. Germany edged the clash. There might be revenge for the French next year at the European championships. For the moment though, the two heavyweights will size each other up in a friendly at the Stade de France.

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While Bosnia-Herzegovina are taking on the Republic of Ireland in the first leg of their playoff for next year's European championships in France, many of the teams who have already qualified for the extravaganza will be in action.

The pick of the friendly internationals will unfold just north of Paris at the Stade de France where the opening match and final of next year's tournament will take place.

France play the world champions Germany. It's 15 months since the sides last met. On that occasion it was in Rio in the last eight of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Just over a year later, the Germans have qualified for the European championships as winners of Group D. France, as hosts of the impending tournament do not have to suffer the swings and arrows of qualification. They've been constructing a side in friendlies.

And Didier Deschamps's men will approach the match against Germany in good heart, results wise.

They've won their last four games, with the most notable performance coming on 8 October in Nice when they thrashed Armenia 4-0.

"When you've been winning games like we have been recently, the thing is not to put too much emphasis on what we've done well or what the opponents have done badly - even though that's often the case," reflected Deschamps.

"On Friday night we will have a very good German team in front of us and we will be put under pressure but that's the idea of playing this kind of match."

A capacity crowd is expected at the Stade de France, the venue for France's sole World Cup final triumph in 1998.

Yet for all his emphasis on formations and tactics, Deschamps' preparations have been overshadowed by the sex tape bribery case involving France forwards Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena.

Benzema, 27, has been charged with complicity to blackmail and conspiring to commit a criminal act in relation to the tape.

Deschamps refused to be questioned on the subject adding: "I am calm, relaxed and concentrating on the games we have coming up."

With his star duo missing, Deschamps confirmed that recalled duo Andre-Pierre Gignac and Hatem Ben Arfa will get a runout in the coming matches. "I don't feel any sense of urgency. I have selected 23 players and they will provide me with some answers in terms of the future," added Deschamps.

"We are playing Germany and England on Tuesday and with all the respect I have for the teams we have played most recently this is not the same."

Germany's preparations for the clash were disrupted when the squad was forced to move out of its hotel in western Paris following a bomb alert. Police and bomb disposal experts checked out the Hotel Molitor for devices but found nothing.

Germany coach Joachim Loew said his players were relishing the chance to play next year's championships hosts.

"We are pleased to measure up to France who have enormous quality. I would say they are among the favourites to win the title," he said. "They haven't had any qualifiers so the game against us will be a big test for them.

"France will be looking to judge themselves and see where they stand, but they have impressed me a lot recently."

 

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