When France and Germany step onto the pitch in Rio on Friday they will be playing for a chance to reach the semifinal and move one step closer to World Cup supremacy. The French were not overly dominant in their win against Nigeria to reach the quarterfinals, while Germany almost suffered what would have been the biggest upset in the World Cup thus far. Don’t expect these teams to come out they way they did in either of those games though.

Neither team is going to sit back and drop all eleven men behind the ball; which is a tactic that many teams, who are not of the same caliber as the other team, deploy. This game will be much more open than both of the Round of 16 games that they played in. Germany does play much more of a possession based game than France does, but this by no means will force the French to “park the bus.”

Didier Deschamps men have looked dangerous in almost every game that they have played in. This team does not necessarily have the individual superstar that is expected when you face a world-class power like France. What they do have is a group of players who are all very good at their position and know what their role on the team is.

21-year old Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) has been superb in the back thus far for “Les Bleus”, and he will most likely have the duty of shutting down Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich) up front. Deschamps will probably elect to go with Debuchy (Newcastle) and Evra (Manchester United) on the wings, as both players have the capability to push up on the counter. When it comes to the French midfield, Paul Pogba (Juventus) will be the one holding the ball up in the centre of the pitch. He is strong in possession, can make tackles, and can find the pass to dislodge a defense. It will be the young Juventus midfielder that will be key in trying to unlock a German defense that has looked very suspect throughout the tournament. Pogba will most likely be targeting Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) up front. The Madrid man is in the running to earn a Golden Boot, and will surely relish going up against a very slow German back four.

The French have everything they need to defeat the German machine. They are strong in back, and dangerous on the counter. This could hurt the Germans as their love for holding the ball and pushing men up field almost caused them an early flight home when they faced Algeria.

The Germans will have a lot of questions to answer when they step onto the pitch at the Maracana. There has been some recent criticism over Jogi Loew’s player selection. It would not surprise me if he stays with the same back four that he did throughout the group stage; with Hoewedes (Schalke) and Boateng (Bayern Munich) out wide and Mertesacker (Arsenal) and Hummels (Dortmund) [if he is fit, which he should be after missing out against Algeria due to the flu] in the middle. It will be key for the Germans to remain strong in their own third, as it is their Achilles heal.

In the midfield look for Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich) to once again sit right on top of the back for, kind of like a stopper. Knowing Loew and his undying loyalty to Mesut Oezil (Arsenal), look for the Arsenal man to feature along Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) once more. It will be interesting to see if he sticks with Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich) again, or goes with Andre Schuerrle (Chelsea), who was very impressive in the game against Algeria. Mueller will feature up top once more and as always will be the one who could put the Germans through to the next round.

It is tough to predict the outcome of this match because you don’t know what German team will show up. They could come out and look unstoppable like they did against Portugal and like we all know they can, or they could play down to a level that us as fans have not seen any German team play down to in quite some time. The French have looked very dangerous in the tournament thus far and would be hard to bet your money against. But something tells me that the Germans will come out and prove all the doubters wrong, playing up to the potential we know they can.

My Prediction: Germany wins 3-2

Betting odds via Bovada.lv

Germany:  (-145) //  (+135) Moneyline
France:     (+220) // (+210)  Moneyline 
Draw:        +230