Half Time: France – 0 Germany. The world champions lead through Mats Hummels’ unfortunate own goal. After a slow start, France were the more relaxed, authoritative side. Paul Pogba was excellent and made the goal with a majestic/overhit pass, while N’Golo Kante was a disgraceful affront to centuries of human imperfection. Germany were a little more frantic, yet they still played pretty well and had chances to equalise. The second half won’t be dull.
45 min Kante is such a fascinating player. I can’t recall a defensive midfielder, ever, with his combination of speed, reading of the game, equanimity and clean tackling.
44 min “I’m pretty sure Pogba meant that pass for Mbappe,” says Gavin. “You could see he was about to curse himself before the ball reached Hernandez.”
That’s interesting, I’ll have a proper look at half-time. I learned the hard way at school that, when you mishit a cross from 40 yards out, you shouldn’t put up your hand in apology a split-second before it sails over the keeper’s head into the net.
43 min Kante is having another ridiculous game. While I was trying to describe the last two incidents, he made two or three interceptions that nobody on the else on the planet would have managed.
41 min Pavard’s cross is taken down on the chest by the unmarked Benzema at the near post, but his touch is slightly too heavy and that ruins any chance of a shot. Instead he lobs the ball back across the area and it’s cleared. For a player with Benzema’s lightness of touch (can a footballer have a velvet chest? They can now!) that was half a chance.
40 min Kimmich, who is on a yellow card, accidentally kicks Hernandez in the face as they wrestle for a loose ball. Hernandez goes down holding his face, but it doesn’t get the desired red card for Kimmich.
38 min: Chance for Gundogan! Gosens’ cross from the left takes a deflection and bounces towards Gnabry at the near post. He improvises an ingenious overhead flick to Gundogan, who bobbles a first-time shot well wide from 12 yards. Pogba did just enough to put him off but it was still a decent chance.
36 min Mbappe destroys Hummels in the inside-left channel, moves into the area and tries to pick out Benzema. Ginter makes a vital interception and knocks the ball behind for a corner. This is starting to look a bit ominous for Germany.
Waiting for the second half now