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Kai Havertz consoles Mats Hummels
Kai Havertz consoles Mats Hummels after Germany lost to FranceImage: Matthias Hangst/REUTERS

Germany and Hummels in the eye of the storm

Matt Ford | Matt Pearson
June 15, 2021

An own goal from returning defender Mats Hummels was enough to condemn Germany to defeat in their Group F opener against world champions France. With European champions Portugal up next, another early exit looms.

https://p.dw.com/p/3uuJ3

France 1 - 0 Germany, Allianz Arena
(Hummels og 20')

A game that boasted the attacking talents of Kylian Mbappe, Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry, Antoine Griezmann, Thomas Müller, Karim Benzema and Leroy Sane was settled by a clumsy first half own goal from Mats Hummels — and a world class display from Paul Pogba.

After a cagey opening, France burst in to life when Pogba showed exquisite vision and execution to pick out the run of Bayern Munich's Lucas Hernandez with the outside of his boot. Hernandez drove low across the six yard box and Hummels, with Mbappe lurking, could only blast in to his own net after getting his feet in a tangle.

While Germany had a few brief spells of pressure, Hugo Lloris was never tested in the French goal and Kylian Mbappe threatened to wrap it up on the break, seeing a goal disallowed before being denied by Hummels' desperate lunge.

France were again denied the second in the dying minutes when Mbappe squared for Benzema to tap home, only to see the flag raised again. But the world champions had done enough. With European champions Portugal up next, Joachim Löw's goodbye is in danger of being significantly shorter than he would wish.

Kimmich out of position

Much of the talk pregame had concerned the role of Joshua Kimmich, Germany's unofficial captain and feisty all-rounder, equally comfortable in central midfield or as a right wingback. In the end, it was the latter.

"He'll have more chances to get forward," Löw had explained, the plan being to pin down French left-back Hernandez. And Kimmich made his intentions clear as early as the seventh minute, when he was booked for an unnecessary foul on his Bayern teammate in a harmless position in the French half.

Joshua Kimmich
Joshua Kimmich reverted to a right sided role after time in the middleImage: Matthias Schrader/AFP/Getty Images

But he wasn't there when it mattered. When Pogba launched the move for the deciding goal with that wonderful pass with the outside of his foot, Kimmich was stranded in the center, Hernandez crossed and Hummels could only shin the ball past Manuel Neuer.

Germany punished by French 'individualists'

It had been coming. Ever since Kimmich's yellow card, France had laid their cards on the table.

"How do you intend to deal with Germany's forwards?" head coach Didier Deschamps had been asked in an interview in the buildup to the tournament. His slightly bemused response: "You should ask Joachim Löw how he wants to deal with ours."

And whether with neat combination play between Antoine Griezmann, Benjamin Pavard, and N'golo Kante down the right, or the electric Kylian Mbappe cutting in from the left, they were proving their coach right.

"Going forward, the French are individualists, they pop up everywhere and anywhere and create chances with their individual qualities and creativity," Löw had said. But how Germany could have done with some of that themselves.

Deutschland München | UEFA Euro 2020 | Frankreich v Deutschland
Image: Lukas Barth-Tuttas/REUTERS

Löw has not ceased to emphasize the positive atmosphere and team spirit in the German camp, which Hummels also attested was much improved from the debacle in Russia in 2018. But you need more than good vibes to beat this French team.

Havertz was guilty of losing possession, Kroos was slow to move the ball forward and, without a recognized striker, the closest Germany came were headed half-chances from Hummels and Müller and a scuffed volley from Gnabry.

The plan to exploit France in behind the fullbacks wasn't working, and there was no sign of a plan B.

Leroy Sane and Timo Werner replaced Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz with 15 minutes remaining – like for like changes, albeit with added pace and penetration.

The better option to close the gaping hole between Germany's midfield and attack would have been Leon Goretzka, but the Bayern Munich man wasn't fit enough to make the matchday squad.

French thunder and lightning

And all the while, the French threat on the counter-attack loomed large and omnipresent, with the imperious Pogba the thunder in midfield and the lightning bolt provided by Mbappe.

Three times the Manchester United man sent the Paris Saint-Germain forward long, and three times Germany got lucky.

On the first occasion, Mbappe twisted and turned and danced through the German defense before curling past Neuer – but he'd been offside in the build-up.

When Pogba launched the next breakaway, Benzema overhit his ball to Mbappe, but the young Parisian ignited the turbos to race past Hummels, who recovered in the nick of time with a brilliant slide tackle.

Third time lucky? Pogba sent Mbappe flying again but he was marginally offside again, and Benzema's finish from his cross was correctly ruled out. But France had done enough.

"We knew that France are extremely good on the counterattack and we couldn't prevent everything. Mbappe is so fast, Benzema can hold it up, Griezmann drops deep," Löw told broadcaster ZDF at full-time.

"It was an incredibly intense game and we gave everything and fought till the end. One own goal decided the game but I can't criticize my team. We won a lot of tackles, but what we were missing was maybe the penetration in the final third. We didn't create enough."

One own goal indeed, but Löw will know that it didn't tell the story. Germany were caught in the eye of the French storm in Munich, and they didn't have the answers.

 

Re-live the match on the next page!

Deutschland München | UEFA Euro 2020 | Frankreich v Deutschland
Image: Matthias Hangst/REUTERS

FULL TIME

The whistle blows and Joachim Löw hangs his head. Germany can have few complaints, they were second best in a cagey game.

90' - Set piece shambles

Germany finally have some territory and get a couple of decent deal ball oppoortunities aroudn the box. But Sane wastes a freekick before Kroos, of all people, blunders with a corner. Germany have been given more of a chance than they deserve but don't seem capable of taking it.

85' - Another disallowed for France!

Mbappe streaks away again, with no Germans in sight. This time he commits Neuer and squares for Benzema to score his first international goal for six years. But, no! The goal is called back for a marginal offside in the build up. Germany throw on Can and Volland for Ginter and Gosens.

80'-  Hummels to the rescue

Mbappe is looking as dangerous as you would expect in this situation and streaks away from Hummels and looks ready to put one past Neuer. But the veteran throws himself from the next postcode and wins the ball from between Mbappe's legs. An excellent tackle but one full of risk and forced by desperation.

74'-  Double sub

No surprises about the men introduced. Sane and Werner are on for Havertz and Gnabry, who have both struggled to make a real impression. It should perhaps be a surprise that Löw has left it so late, but he has form in that area.

66'- Disallowed goal!

He was offside, it was the right decision but it still feels like a shame. Mbappe picks it up in the inside left position that gets the alarm bells ringing. He stands up Ginter before using him liek a training ground dummy and curling in to the far post. But Germany live to fight another day.

59' - Signs of life

This is better from Germany, who are building up a head of steam. Gosens nearly gets on the end of a textbook Kimmich cross before inadvertently blocking a stinging Kroos effort while on the deck. Gnabry and Müller are starting to show themsleves at the time that Löw must be thinking about replacements.

54' - Post!

Mbappe takes a leaf out of Pogba's book and slips Rabiot in with the outside of his right boot. The midfielder has Griezmann begging for it in the center but opts to go near post after giving Neuer the eyes. But his effort strikes the outside of the woodwork. Moments late, Gnabry scuffs a volley over from 15 yards, the closest Germany have come.

46' - Back underway

Here we go again. Germany have not had a shot on target yet and, remarkably, do not have a player on the pitch who has scored at the Euros. There's a first time for everything.

HALF TIME

The first 45 is done and the scoreline is a pretty fair reflection of the game. After a cagey opener, France have started to control things and shown a little more invention than the Germans. No more so than in the ball played by Paul Pogba that lead, ultimately, to Mats Hummels turning in to his own net. Germany had one little burst of pressure but have not looked coherent. Müller, Gnabry and Havertz have barely had a kick. Plenty to ponder for Herr Löw.

41' - Kicking Kimmich

Just for a moment, the golden boy must have been worried. After being booked early on for a late challenge on clubmate Hernandez, he catches the same man in the face with his boot while tumbling under a challenge. The ref has a look but decides, rightly, there was no intent. This picture is not a true representation, but not a million miles off either.

36' - Les Blues turn the screw

France have regained control after that brief flurry, with Mbappe and Griezmann both stretching their legs. Still just one effort on target between the teams though. Earlier on, just before kickoff, an environmental protestor nearly got themselves in trouble.

28' - Germany respond

The home side have barely got going but suddenly are stung in to finding another gear. First Müller can't quite get over a header, then Kroos' freekick hits the wall despite a full blooded and odd run from Müller in an attempt to distract. It's heating up.

20' - GOAL! France 1 - 0 Germany (Hummels og') 

Hummels might be regretting that comeback  now. A sensational ball that, one only he could see, from the outside of Pogba's boot find Hernandez bursting in to the left of the box. He drives it across towards Mbappe at the back stick but Hummels is there. But his feet fail to adjust and he turns in to his own net. Hummels scored against France in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinal, of course.

16' - Touch of class, France chance

Fair to say this has been scrappy so far, as these heavyweight clashes often are. But Benzema has just livened it up with a sensational touch, bringing a long pass from Pogba down from out of the night sky over on the right touchline. Eventually it leads to a corner, from which Pogba sends a header over the bar. Decent chance that.

6' - Kimmich cautioned

A late, though not especially malicious, tackle from Kimmich on his Bayern teammate Hernandez sees him punished with the first yellow card of the game. Luckily he's only up against Mbappe. What could go wrong?

1' - Kick Off!

The anthems are sung, fans are dotted in clusters around the stadium and the last two World Champions are ready to do battle. Gnabry gets us underway.

---

Wide boys

Löw has just been talking to German public broadcaster ZDF about the importance of his wingbacks. It has been a problem area for Germany, leading the coach to move Kimmich out to the right having played in midfield for the last few years.

"On the one hand, we have to stand up defensively with the three men. On the other hand, we need good people on the outside. That's why I've decided to have Kimmich on the right. We can create more opportunities from the outside than through the middle."

Spotted in the stands

Hansi Flick knows his way around this stadium pretty well, after winning the lot as Bayern Munich boss. He also worked with Joachim Löw during the 2014 World Cup and will succeed his old boss after this tournament. A watching brief only tonight, unless his old pal is giving him special access to the dressing room?

Benzema brings back memories

It's been seven  years since Karim Benzema played for France but he leads the line for the World champions in Munich tonight. His last international appearance came against Germany in 2014 in the quarterfinal of the World Cup. Mats Hummels, another comeback kid, scored the only goal of the game that night. Not sure what happened to Germany after that...

Germany team news: Müller and Hummels both start

Germany line up exactly as DW's Jonathan Harding reported yesterday. Recalled Müller and Hummels both start, while Gnabry and Havertz provide the goal threat.

Expect Germany to line up in a 3-5-2 with Kimmich and Gosens working the flanks.

Germany XI: Neuer - Ginter, Hummels, Rüdiger - Kimmich, Kroos, Gündogan, Gosens - Havertz, Müller, Gnabry

Testspiel - Deutschland vs Lettland
Image: Gladys Chai von der Laage/picture alliance

GOAL! Hungary 0-3 Portugal (Ronaldo)

The first goal was fortunate, the second a penalty, but the third is pure class from Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. The captain exchanges a series of one-twos with Rafa before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home.

Lovely goal, and the Hungarians are well beaten now, having fought so well for so long.

GOAL! Hungary 0-2 Portugal (Ronaldo - pen)

Game over, in the blink of an eye - and a nightmare few minutes for RB Leipzig and Hungary defender Willi Orban.

After deflecting the ball in for the first goal, Orban then fouls Rafa in the box and the referee awards the first penalty of Euro 2020. Cristiano Ronaldo steps up and makes no mistake.

GOAL! Hungary 0-1 Portugal (Guerreiro)

Oh dear, that is so unlucky from a Hungarian point of view. Just five minutes after almost taking the lead themselves, Portugal score at the other end.

It's a goal made entirely in the Bundesliga as Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro sees his scuffed shot deflect of RB Leipzig's Willi Orban and slide past a stranded Peter Gulacsi.

Offside! 

Hungary, backed by their vocal fans, having been fighting for their lives to keep Portugal at bay - and they thought they'd taken the lead themselves with ten minutes remaining! Szabolcs Schön, just on as a substitute, cuts inside from the right wing and shoots low into the bottom corner - but the assistant referee's flag is raised, and Portugal survive.

Meanwhile, Eintracht Frankfurt striker Andre Silva has come on for Portugal ...

France team news

The visiting world champions have already announced their starting line-up. There are no surprises; this is very much Didier Deschamps' strongest XI. And as if that France forward line wasn't already formidable enough, they've only gone and recalled Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

France XI: Lloris - Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Hernandez - Kante, Pogba, Rabiot - Griezmann, Mbappé, Benzema

At this point, we'd like to wish the German defense: bon courage...

Fussball l Frankreich Nationalmannschaft, Mannschaftsbild
Image: Anthony Bibard/PanoramiC/imago images

Munich is ready for Euro 2020

Germany's opening game of Euro 2020, and indeed all three group games, takes place in Munich.

The stadium, built ahead of the 2006 World Cup, has many names: in the Bundesliga, it's the Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich. Although some fans prefer to avoid the sponsor name and refer to the Fröttmaninger Arena, after the district of Munich it is located in. For those of a blue persuasion in Munich, it's the former, unpopular home of 1860 Munich. For fans of most visiting teams, it's just a bloody difficult place to go.

But for the purposes of this tournament, it's the exotically named "Football Arena Munich."

Joshua Kimmich: 'Joachim Löw is hungry'

Germany right-back / midfielder / all-rounder / unofficial captain / baby-faced assassin Joshua Kimmich experienced the debacle in Russia in 2018 at first hand, but he's confident that head coach Joachim Löw is approaching Euro 2020 with the right mentality.

Half Time: Hungary 0-0 Portugal

Goalless at the break in Budapest! Reigning champions Portugal have dominated proceedings as expected, and RB Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi has been kept busy in the Hungary goal. But he would have had no chance of stopping Cristiano Ronaldo's effort from just six yards out, if only the Juventus man had hit the target from Bruno Fernandes' cross!

A let-off for the hosts ...

Full house in Budapest

First of all this evening, Group F gets underway with Hungary vs. Portugal in Budapest - and it's a first: the first football match in Europe since the start of the pandemic in front of a full stadium. 67,155 fans with negative tests or proof of vaccination are packed inside the Puskas Arena, the vast majority supporting the home team.

Of course, the pandemic is not yet over. The coronavirus still exists. Almost 30,000 people have died from the virus in Hungary and although the numbers have dropped off, there were still 57 new cases and 10 deaths reported today. For nationalist Primer Minister Viktor Orban, a full stadium in his capital city is a political signal that his country has "beaten" the virus.

Be that as it may, let's hope that the Hungarians don't regret today because, if we're being honest, it is still a great sight and symbol of hope for football supporters that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Focus on: Joshua Kimmich

Fußball DFB Natonalmannschaft Joshua Kimmich
Image: Elmar Kremser/SVEN SIMON/picture alliance

Joshua Kimmich is not Germany's captain, nor is he the most experienced player in the squad. But his influence and importance exceed his 26 years.

Often compared to the legendary Philipp Lahm, largely due to his transition from right back to central midfield, he is in fact an entirely different character, not afraid to tell teammates straight up what he thinks.

DW's Jonathan Harding reports from the national team camp: Joshua Kimmich, Germany's heartbeat for Euro 2020 and beyond

From the coach's mouth: Didier Deschamps

"This first game is important - but it won't be decisive. Still, the level of the opposition makes it a difficult opening match. But we're among the best teams in Europe and we know we have to be efficient in the key areas."

When asked what he intends to do to stop Germany's offensive talents, Deschamps said: "Ask Joachim Löw how he's going to stop ours!"

Les Bleus

France are aiming to repeat their feat of 1998 and 2000 when they followed up World Cup triumph with victory at the following European Championships. The reigning world champions, who knocked Germany out of Euro 2016 in the semifinals, are favorites again — and have even strengthened an already formidable side with the return of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

In Lucas Hernandez, Kingsley Coman, Benjamin Pavard and Corentin Tolisso, there are also four Bayern Munich players in the France squad who will be playing in their home stadium. And with over 2,500 French fans expected among the 14,500 limited capacity, Les Bleus will be hoping to make themselves feel at home.

Müller and Hummels to start?

Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels were both recalled to the Germany squad after being axed back in 2019 — and both are likely to start against France, reports DW's Jonathan Harding.

From the coach's mouth: Joachim Löw

"We've prepared ourselves very well in the last two weeks and have taken steps in the right direction. It's a good atmosphere, but you can also feel a lot of ambition and determination. We're well equipped and can't wait to get started."

Löw's farewell tour

For head coach Joachim Löw, it's the start of his eighth major tournament - and his last, with the Bundestrainer due to step down after the tournament. It marks the end of over 15 years with the German Nationalmannschaft, beginning as Jürgen Klinsmann's assistant at the World Cup in Germany in 2006, via triumph in Brazil in 2014 and tragedy in Russia in 2018.

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