France v Germany: Ailing Germans will have to dig in

Germany coach Joachim Loew
Germany boss Jogi Loew is under increasing pressure
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After successfully predicting Germany's demise against the Netherlands, our Bundesliga expert Kevin Hatchard believes Die Mannschaft will have to prioritise defending against the world champions.

"Games between these two tend to be pretty tight, and they played out a goalless draw just a few weeks ago."

Back No in the Both Teams To Score market at [2.16]

France v Germany
Tuesday 16 October, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Deschamps content despite Iceland misstep

When you're the world champions, every failure to win warrants scrutiny, but no-one in the France camp seems overly disturbed by the recent 2-2 draw with Iceland. The out-of-form visitors raced into a 2-0 lead in Guingamp, only for the extraordinary Kylian Mbappe to inspire a storming late comeback and force a 2-2 draw.

Coach Didier Deschamps admits Les Bleus were too casual in the early part of the match, but stopped short of reading the riot act. Frankly, there's no need - France are unbeaten in 14 games (including their glittering World Cup campaign) and they have won ten of those matches.

Deschamps says Mbappe will be fit for this game, while Blaise Matuidi could return after injury. Despite his lack of goals for club and country, Olivier Giroud is likely to lead the attack.

Loew's glorious reign has reached its darkest hour

There comes a point when a blip becomes a slump, and a slump becomes a full-blown crisis. Germany's limp collapse in Amsterdam against the Netherlands - a game they lost 3-0 to raise fears of relegation from European football's "top flight" - was the latest in a series of bafflingly poor displays. The word in Germany right now is that coach Jogi Loew, who signed a new deal until 2022 just before the World Cup, is surviving at present simply because there are no credible alternatives.

Loew's largely successful 12 years at the helm mean he has significant credit in the bank, but while he has always been a coach who has been able to successfully regenerate his squad and make the right tactical tweaks, those skills seem to have deserted him. In the words of his own player Julian Draxler, Loew's Germany were too slow and predictable against the Dutch, and Die Mannschaft have now failed to score in four of their last six games in all competitions. Substitute Leroy Sane had Germany's best chance against the Netherlands, but at 1-0 down the Manchester City forward fired wastefully wide from close range.

Germany's biggest problem is the collective lack of form of their key players. Keeper Manuel Neuer looks jerky and fragile, like he's just been thawed out of the ice after a thousand years, defender Jerome Boateng is making rash decisions on a regular basis, and Thomas Mueller is misfiring for club and country. Nico Schulz, Niklas Sule, Julian Brandt and Marc-Andre ter Stegen played 22 minutes between them on Saturday night, and that doesn't seem right to me.

Boateng is injured for the trip to Paris, which frankly could be a blessing in disguise. Loew praised Sane's display, despite his miss, so he could be line for a start.

France worthy favourites, but a bit too short

Given Germany's recent problems you can understand why France are favourites, but at [1.77] I'm not sure backing the home win is that exciting a prospect. These teams cancelled each other out last month in a goalless draw, France were a bit slack against Iceland, and I just wonder whether we might see a German reaction after they hit rock-bottom on Saturday night.

German tension could lead to tight affair

If Germany lose this one, they are in serious danger of relegation to the second tier of the Nations League, while a French win would take Les Bleus to within touching distance of a place in the finals. Games between these nations have been very close in recent years - four of the last five meetings have featured fewer than three goals, and two of the last three have ended level.

I think Germany may adopt a more cautious approach than usual, so I recommend backing No in the Both Teams To Score market at [2.16] or Under 2.5 Goals at [2.1].

Mbappe always worth considering as potential scorer

While I don't expect many goals, and I'm not totally convinced France will win, I can't fail to mention that you can back Kylian Mbappe to score in 90 minutes at a healthy 13/10 on the Sportsbook. The 19-year-old has scored 13 goals in his last 11 games for club and country, including a goal in the World Cup final and four in 13 minutes in a recent 5-0 win for PSG over Lyon.

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