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Löw on France: "I think this team is better"

On Friday, Germany and France will both have the chance to swap their unwanted scandals for soccer as the two mighty football nations face off in the French capital. Joachim Löw hinted at possible starters on Thursday.

"Six to seven positions are clear, three or four are up for grabs," said Germany's head coach Joachim Löw of his starting eleven that will face France in Paris on Friday evening.

Manuel Neuer is expected to start in goal, while Sami Khedira is expected to make his first Germany appearance since Germany's 7-0 qualifying win over Gibraltar back in June. Schalke teenager Leroy Sane and returning forward Mario Gomez have also been tipped to start.

"I believe that Sami is ready. He made a good and aggressive impression in training," Löw told a news conference on Thursday. Khedira will likely partner Bastian Schweinsteiger in midfield.

More to France than flair

Although, France head coach Didier Deschamps has not picked Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema and Lyon's Mathieu Valbuena as a result of their sex tape scandal, midfielder Paul Pogba remains the central figure for a France team that will be amongst the favorites next summer, according to Löw.

Fußball WM 2014 Deutschland Frankreich Viertelfinale

Paul Pogba is the heart of this France team

"You see that in their direct play, based on attack, contrary to their more intrinsic nature which is maybe more about keeping possession. It's a well-balanced side with Paul Pogba as a central player," said Germany's 55-year-old head coach.

"By all accounts, they have impressed me a lot. They're very direct and I'd classify them as one of the Euro 2016 favorites," added Löw on Thursday.

Germany beat France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Brazil last year, before going on to lift the title with a 1-0 victory over Argentina in the final. "I think this team is better, it has grown since the last World Cup, increased in maturity," said Löw.

Both nations will be desperate to get back to football after weeks of scandal. France striker Karim Benzema fights to clear his name in a sex tape controversy, while German officials are caught up in corruption allegations surrounding their hosting of the 2006 World Cup.

While not affecting his work with the team, Löw called for "a clear, swift and thorough clearing up" of the 2006 World Cup affair. Germany's head coach said he and general manager Oliver Bierhoff briefly discussed the issue with the team but Löw said it wouldn't affect preparations even though it was an issue that had indeed troubled him.

Following the French test, Germany will host the Netherlands, who did not qualify for the Euros, in Hanover on Tuesday.

jh/ (AFP, AP, dpa)

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