France vs Germany: Three key players to look out for

France will take on UEFA Euro 2024 hosts Germany in by far the most high-profile friendly of this round as we look at three key players for this clash.

The current international game schedule may irk most club-watching football fans, but in truth, this is a critical period for the national team managers. The time between now and the start of the Euros is tight, meaning these bosses may have few opportunities to gauge their players, especially Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann, as they gear up to take on France.

Between now and the start of tournament, national teams have four games to filter their needs and form the core group of their squads. It is a much bigger task for managers of teams like Germany and France, with particular pressure on the former to host the tournament in the home country.

Hence, without much doubt, the level of performance classes being friendly will provide absolute entertainment without masking the quality. In short, these should be regarded as competitive fixtures, with each player motivated to leave a lasting impression on their managers.

The clash between European heavyweights France and Germany is always a big showdown of talent and quality. This time around, it will be the same, as both sets of managers have a top-level squad at their disposal, with some players in particular needing to make a more significant impact than the others.

France boss Didier Deschamps has a rich selection of players to choose from, including three prominent goalkeeping options to select from. In defence, he has a significant headache more than any other position on the pitch, with the head coach still evaluating his best pairing in the central positions.

Hence, there’s a particular focus on central defenders ahead of the clash with Germany, with one player coming into the spotlight in Dayot Upamecano. On the other end of the spectrum, and focusing on the German squad, Julian Nagelsmann will certainly evaluate several of his players closely.

The former Bayern Munich boss is still deciding on the best starting lineup he would prefer for all games, regardless of the opponents. While there are some positions in which he has a fair amount of options, there is a particular selection headache when it comes to his attackers.

Germany are blessed with potent attackers, like Jamal Musiala, Florian Wirtz, and Kai Havertz, all significant parts of Nagelsmann’s plans as things stand. However, the manager wants to integrate every one of those stars into his setup one way or another, with particular focus on the Arsenal attacker.

Meanwhile, there are some concerns about Germany’s midfield, with one or two players still needing to prove their credentials in a team game over individual quality. Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos are great players for Barcelona and Real Madrid. But in recent times, they have failed to deliver for Germany. Hence, here, we will look at the latter as someone eager to make a point.

Toni Kroos

The German maestro is staring at one of the critical tournaments of his career with Germany, mainly after the 2014 World Cup campaign. The aftermath of that tournament in Brazil saw disruptions in the German camp, with the midfield not particularly gelling to Joachim Low’s specifications.

They have had dismal major tournaments since and have yet to recover from that phenomenon, as Germany continue to have one of the best squads around without much success. Julian Nagelsmann has a big task on his hands ahead of UEFA Euro 2024, and here, he must get his midfield selection right for games, especially the big ones.

Hence, there are concerns about the ageing partnership of Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan in the middle of the park, with the duo likely to take the field against France. In truth, Nagelsmann will select only one of these stars if he goes with Joshua Kimmich as the other option.

So Kroos must have a brilliant game enough to convince the manager that he has much to offer in that German midfield. A good performance against France would put him in good stead with Nageslmann, and the midfielder still has game-changing tendencies. So, his return to the international fold is big news for Germany ahead of facing France.

Kai Havertz

One of the most in-form German attackers coming into this clash, Kai Havertz, will want to stake his claim in that starting lineup when the Euros start. Everyone would have noticed his glowing form with Arsenal lately, and Julian Nagelsmann will hope he brings that to the pitch for the national side.

Interestingly, Nagelsmann created headlines in the last international break by starting Havertz as a left-back, which showed the manager had plenty of faith in the Arsenal star. He was trying to see how he could fit all of his best attackers on the pitch, and the decision paid dividends.

Nagelsmann has since confirmed he will not experiment with Havertz’s position in the team, meaning the attacker may have a more significant role to play from here on. Hence, Havertz will be a player who keeps a close eye on when the German side takes on France.

Meanwhile, the former Chelsea man will prove a thorn in France’s backline with his persistent running and physical presence. Nagelsmann would want him among the goalscorers, with the Arsenal star improving steadily, and he could become one of Germany’s main attackers from here on and in the Euros.

Dayot Upamecano

The Bayern Munich defender has come in for plenty of criticism this season and the previous one, as he has been criticised for his defensive frailties. There have been issues with Upamecano’s game of late, with some attackers quickly getting the better of him in certain games.

The big problem for the Frenchman is the limited time he has on his hands to prove his worth to Didier Deschamps. Until now, the French tactician has chosen Upamecano as part of his core defensive setup. But there are players like William Saliba and Jean-Clair Todibo consistently knocking on the doors.

Meanwhile, Upamecano must see to it that his performances do not involve any errors and that particularly against Germany, he has a clean game. The Germans have some challenging attackers on their side, which will show Deschamps the mettle of the Bayern man.

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