Zee Media Bureau/Chaitan Papnai
New Delhi: The historic Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro is all set to host probably the biggest match of the tournament on Wednesday, when two European giants - France and Germany - will lock horns to book a berth in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup 2014.
Both the teams have won the quadrennial event at least once. If France have lifted the trophy once then Germany came out triumphant on three occasions. But in today’s encounter, one of the favourites to win the FIFA trophy this time, Germany might have to go back home. At least few factors and statistics suggest this:\
1. In the head-to-head encounters 25 matches have been played so far between both the football powerhouses. And France have a better record as they have won eleven matches, whereas Germany beat France on eight occasions. However, rest of the six matches ended in a draw.
2. Injury of players like Mats Hummels, Shkodran Mustafi and Bastian Schweinsteiger are worrying signs for the Germans before the match. However, France are looking all set for the clash as their key players Karim Benzema, Oliver Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba have so far risen to the occasion and more importantly are fully fit.
3. In the ongoing World Cup, France have scored more goals than Germany even after playing a goalless draw against Ecuador in their last group match. If Germany have scored nine goals in their four matches then France have found the back of the net on ten occasions.
4. Maracana stadium is known for its history, especially after the 1950 World Cup summit clash, when Uruguay pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament by beating the host nation, Brazil – a defeat, which was later termed as Maracanazo or `the Maracana blow`. This time too, the title holders Spain lost their match against Chile in the group stages at the same stadium, which ended their World Cup campaign. Germany, one of the favourites to win this tournament, will be up against France. And who knows may be Germany would be its next victim.
5. This year, the Germans have started their World Cup campaign on a good note by winning their first match in an emphatic fashion by drubbing Portugal 4-0. But then Germany had to labour their way to break into the quarter-finals. Though, France too got off to a flying start in Group E, when they first beat Honduras 3-0 and then got the better of Switzerland by muscling them 5-2, but then they drew with Ecuador in a goalless match before beating resolute Nigeria 2-0 in the extra time. But if we analyse their games France have shown enough maturity, patient and authority over their rivals to dictate the terms compared to Germany, thus far, in the tournament. One can easily say that while on one hand, France are peaking at the right time, on the other there has been a certain dip in the German performance as the tournament has progressed.
But such factors hardly matter once both the teams enter the Maracana stadium to play a high octane clash for the semi-final berth. Whoever wins, one thing is sure that the match is going to be a blockbuster hit and there is no second thought about it.