By 90Min
September 05, 2018

Germany and France will return to action for the first time since this summer's World Cup on Thursday as the two international giants kick off the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

With European Championship qualifiers just around the corner, both sides will be hoping to win this match - France in order to maintain momentum after their triumph in Russia, Germany to gain confidence as a team after a disastrous defence of their World Cup title.

Based on current form, France will surely be considered the favourites, but we all know that Joachim Löw's Germany team can spring a surprise or two.


Classic Encounter


Germany 0-2 France (Euro 2016)


The last time these sides met in a competitive fixture was the previous European Championships, where host nation France reached the final of the competition for the first time ever with a 2-0 victory over Germany.

Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Antoine Griezmann scored either side of half time to see off the challenge of Die Mannschaft as France battled to set up a meeting with Portugal in the final, which they would ultimately lose.

Although Les Bleus were unable to emerge victorious from this competition, the win against Germany showed great promise and this side can now be viewed as something of a blueprint for the one that went on to lift the World Cup two years later.


Key Battle


Toni Kroos vs Paul Pogba


These two sides are a pair of finely tuned machines, each one capable of decimating an opponent with slick passing play and the sheer quality of their players. What could decide the fixture one way or the other is which team's midfield general is on form.

Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

The disparity between Paul Pogba's form for his country and for Manchester United could hardly be greater, with the midfielder enjoying more freedom (and probably just enjoying more in general) in Didier Deschamps' side.

Kroos was one of the few German players to leave the World Cup with his dignity intact, being one of the better performers in his side and scoring a tremendous goal against Sweden. Either one of these players could win the match for their side single-handedly provided they can take control of the midfield - but they will have their work cut out.


Team News


Deschamps is able to call upon the same squad which lifted the World Cup back in July with the exception of captain Hugo Lloris and fellow goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, both of whom miss out through injury.

CHRISTOF STACHE/GettyImages

Germany will be without playmaker Mesut Ozil for the first time since the Arsenal midfielder announced his international retirement, citing institutionalised racism from German supporters and within the country's own Football Association.

However, Löw has recalled Manchester City winger Leroy Sane to the squad, having previously made the player a surprise omission from his World Cup squad.


Predicted Lineups


Germany XI: Neuer; Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng, Schulz; Kroos, Gundogan, Reus, Muller, Sane; Werner.

France XI: Areola; Mendy, Varane, Umtiti, Pavard; Kante, Matuidi, Pogba; Griezmann, Giroud, Mbappe.


Prediction


Though Germany were surprisingly poor at the World Cup and will have had their pride severely dented by the failure to progress beyond the group stages, they have the benefit of being back on home soil for this one and Die Mannschaft will feel they have a point to prove in front of their supporters.

Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

However, this French side are riding high after their triumph in Russia and boast a seriously impressive side, including the devastating attacking talent of Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe and a star-studded midfield.

This game has the potential to be a fascinating game and could go either way, but France may just have enough quality to shift the balance in their favour.

Prediction: Germany 1-2 France

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