Euro 2012 - Superb France stun Germany in Bremen

Wed, 29 Feb 21:53:00 2012

Goals from Olivier Giroud and Florent Malouda led France to an impressive 2-1 win against Germany in an international friendly in Bremen.

2012 Amical France Olivier Giroud - 0

Giroud put the visitors ahead on his full debut as Laurent Blanc’s side played a cagey counter-attacking game in the first half, with Malouda adding a second at a similar point in the second period as Les Bleus took the game to their hosts.

Substitute Cacau pulled one back in the final minute for Germany but, despite rallying in four minutes of added time, France were never threatened again and held out for a morale-boosting victory.

France face England, Sweden and hosts Ukraine in a tough Euro 2012 group, while Germany look forward to clashes against Denmark, Portugal and bitter rivals Netherlands, who beat England 3-2 in a thrilling clash at Wembley.

In an entertaining clash Germany played their part - particularly in the first half - but France held on to inflict a rare defeat on Joachim Loew’s World Cup semi-finalists.

A breathtaking first half saw Germany - missing the injured Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze - dominate possession, while France broke with pace and guile, Samir Nasri and Mathieu Debuchy particularly impressive.

Both sides created multiple opportunities, with fine goalkeeping, poor finishing, the woodwork and bad luck denying delighted supporters a goal-fest.

The first blow was landed by the visitors, who soaked up 10 minutes of incessant pressure before winning a corner from which Philippe Mexes collided with team-mate Adil Rami to head wide.

That set the tone for the half as Tim Wiese saved well from Johan Cabaye’s header, while Eric Abidal did well to block a goal-bound Marco Reus half-volley.

Midway through the first half Les Bleus took the lead and it was a goal on his full debut for Giroud, who knocked home a sweet first-time finish after a brilliant run down the right wing from attacking Lille full-back Debuchy.

It was a fine strike by the man standing in for Karim Benzema, and one that reflected the pattern of the match, which continued into the break as two of Europe’s heavyweights landed and absorbed punches respectively.

Hugo Lloris made a risky save at the feet of Reus, while Rami denied Miroslav Klose with a last-ditch tackle.

Germany were piling it on with Lloris making another spectacular save from point-blank range, this time denying Klose after a Toni Kroos free-kick was allowed to sail to the unmarked Lazio striker.

The hosts then hit the post, defender Holger Badstuber’s downward header beating Lloris but not the woodwork after fine wing-play by Kroos.

It was not all Germany though, as Giroud mistimed a header after rising highest to meet a corner, but the hosts really should have levelled when Klose finished weakly at Lloris after an excellent exchange down the right between dynamic Real Madrid duo Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.

A late Ozil corner caused more havoc but France held on into half-time, a goal to the good, if battered by their hosts.

Franck Ribery, who had been a lively operator on the left, failed to resurface for the second half, apparently with an injury.

Just before the restart Giroud said that Blanc had asked France to control possession, and they heeded his instructions with a very strong start to the half.

They had nearly all the ball, and were carving out opportunities too: Nasri saw a shot deflected wide by Jerome Boateng, Debuchy had a long-range effort batted away by Wiese, Giroud had a low drive saved and Mathieu Valbuena put inches wide when he should have scored.

Germany were resorting to rare counters, and they did have a few sighters: Rami spared Mexes’s blushes after his error let Klose in, while the Valencia defender put in a great block to deny Reus.

But the second France goal was coming and it was deserved too as, with 20 minutes left, the superb Debuchy once more rampaged down then right before putting in an excellent low cross: Benedikt Hoewedes initially denied Giroud on the line, but sub Malouda was on hand to thrash the ball into the roof of an empty net.

That ended the match as a contest as France sought to defend in numbers, although Germany attacked gamely as Lloris was called into action with a couple of straightforward saves.

It also allowed France to look for the break, sub Louis Saha denied a goal by the offside flag and denied again by the decision of Jeremy Menez to run and not pass.

Germany did pull one back when Brazilian-born striker Cacau tapped the ball into an empty net after a superb low cross from fellow sub Thomas Mueller, but it was merely consolation as the guests put everyone behind the ball to deny a dramatic leveller.

Reda Maher - @Reda_Eurosport / Eurosport

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