One of the most notable aspects of this expanded edition of the Euros is the imbalance of the knockout stage. Part of that has been down to the new structure of the tournament with 24 teams and four of six third-place finishers in the group stage advancing, and part has been big teams starting slow and smaller ones playing out of their skin. But the result was Germany battling Italy in the quarterfinals while France made easy work of Iceland.
In the interest of pre-match banter, Germany’s Mesut Özil made sure Arsenal teammate and France defender Laurent Koscielny was aware that their semifinal was going to be a bit different than France’s quarterfinal.
From ESPN FC:
Germany reached the last four with a penalty shootout win over Italy while France thrashed tournament debutants Iceland 5-2, and Ozil told kicker: “We are still teasing each other.
“After the quarterfinal I texted Koscielny to say that we are not Iceland. He replied that it will be big match in Marseille, for us and the fans. We are all looking forward to it.”
Though it wasn’t as easy as the Iceland match, France still overcame Germany’s superior possession (65%) and passing (643-302) to win 2-0. It was France’s first competitive win over Germany since 1958.
After the match, Özil looked distraught — not so much because Germany lost, but because he knows all the Frenchmen at Arsenal will be reminding him of this all season long.