Germany and France will meet in the World Cup for the first time in 28 years after each advanced to the quarterfinals in Brazil.
France defeated Nigeria 2-0 on a pair of late goals yesterday before Germany beat Algeria 2-1 after extra time. The quarterfinal lineup will be completed today, when Argentina plays Switzerland in Sao Paulo and Belgium takes on the U.S. in Salvador. Brazil, Colombia, the Netherlands and Costa Rica have already advanced from the round of 16.
France lost a penalty shootout 5-4 to West Germany after a 3-3 tie in the semifinals at the 1982 World Cup. The game is notorious for a tackle by German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher that went unpunished by the match referee even though it broke the jaw of French player Patrick Battiston and left him unconscious on the field. Four years later, West Germany beat France 2-0 to reach the World Cup final.
“France-Germany has always been a classic,” Germany coach Joachim Loew told reporters yesterday. “They are always highly dramatic matches. France has done marvellously well. They are a fighting team, a strong team.”
Brazil will take on Colombia in Fortaleza on July 4 after Germany, which won the last of its three World Cups in 1990, and 1998 champion France revive their rivalry the same day in Rio de Janeiro. In eight games since the 1986 semifinal, France has five wins and Germany has two, with one draw, according to Soccerbase.com.
Yesterday, German substitute Andre Schuerrle flicked Thomas Mueller’s pass into the goal two minutes into the first extra period in Porto Alegre to finally beat Algeria goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, who was named the man of the match. Mesut Ozil added another goal near the end of the second period of extra time and Algeria got a goal back almost immediately from substitute Abdelmoumene Djabou to set up a hectic finish.
France advanced on two goals in the final 11 minutes in Brasilia. Paul Pogba got the breakthrough on 79 minutes with a headed goal and Nigeria’s Joseph Yobo turned the ball into his own goal in the 90th minute to make it 2-0.
There was “a lot of intensity, a lot of physicality, so we had to be ready for the struggle,” France coach Didier Deschamps told reporters.
“We ended very well,” Deschamps said. “It’s very difficult when you control every aspect from the first to the last minute. We had a really strong last half an hour, with all dynamism, all speed.”
Algeria’s Medhi Lacen put the ball in Germany’s net with a diving header after about 15 minutes, though the effort was ruled offside.
Both teams had opportunities to score in the second half, with the Germans frustrated by Mbolhi even though they dominated possession. Algeria packed its defense and relied on counterattacks to try to catch the Germans undermanned at the back, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer racing out several times to clear long balls.
“We had a major problems in the first half in organizing the way we played,” Loew said. “We lost the ball, we made simple mistakes that invited the opponent to launch counters. In the second half we showed a better build up. I don’t think we played badly -- we had six to eight chances -- it was a victory of willpower. We should have decided the match earlier.”
The crowd in Brasilia overwhelmingly supported Nigeria, booing when France had the ball.
Pogba scored when Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama tried to punch a corner kick clear and instead flipped the ball toward the Frenchman, who headed it into the unoccupied goal. In injury time, Yobo turned the ball into his own goal with his knee as he, Enyeama and French substitute Antoine Griezmann came together in the penalty area.
“Any loss is painful, it can be in the first round, even a friendly, when you see your team play good football, do what you ask them to do and then you turn around and lose the game,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said. “I don’t think we deserve to lose the game in this way but this is football.”