It was not particularly pretty, but Germany got everything right as they managed to grind out a tight 1-0 win over France to advance to the World Cup semifinals.
Germany head coach, Joachim Low, made a few adjustments to his starting lineup and that, combined with the teams tactical discipline, were what made the difference in the game. Germany had been caught napping numerous times in defense against Algeria in their last game, but Low set his team up in this game to dash any hopes the French had of doing the same.
In defense, Philipp Lahm reverted to right-back to strengthen that area of the pitch, and Mats Hummels returned at center-back and went on to score the crucial winning goal. Miroslav Klose came into the lineup in attack, which allowed Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller to occupy the wide positions, but also drift inside to counteract the strong midfield of France.
The center of midfield is France’s strongest area, with Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye working in tandem, but Germany managed to get that area under control due to strength in numbers. Turnovers were also at a premium from Germany, unlike the Algeria game, which eliminated a lot of the France counterattacking threat.
Germany actually sat deep for spells in the game and allowed France to have possession, knowing that without space, it would be more difficult for this France team to break them down. It was a smart move by Low, and it proved to be much safer than allowing France to use the counterattack with the pace that they have in their attack.
As the game wore on, the Germans were more protective of their single-goal lead, but it worked perfectly well as France continued to lack the guile necessary to break down a deeper sitting German team. It was a fantastic tactical game plan by Low which could not have worked much better on the day. Germany could have had more goals on the counterattack too, but were wasteful with their chances as the game drew to a close.
Before the game, it seemed Germany would be in for a tough time, given the problems they had containing Algeria in the last round, but Low deserves a lot of praise for making the right decisions at precisely the right time. It is a German team with a few key weaknesses which he currently has, but if he can continue to hide those weakness as the team progresses in the tournament, then Germany might just grind out enough wins to become the ultimate victors.