What's buzzing:

Germany beats France 1-0, reaches World Cup semis

The Associated Press
Germany beats France 1-0, reaches World Cup semis
.

View gallery

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- It just wouldn't be the World Cup without Germany in the semifinals.

Harnessing all their big-game experience, the Germans delivered a performance of maturity and efficiency to hold off France 1-0 on Friday and become the first team to reach four straight semifinals in the sport's marquee tournament.

Defender Mats Hummels scored the winning goal in the 13th minute, outmuscling his marker at a free kick to glance a header in off the underside of the crossbar.

Criticized for poor defending in earlier matches, Germany selected a more robust lineup and restricted a flat France team to only a handful of clear-cut opportunities in muggy conditions.

''There was not much in it,'' France coach Didier Deschamps said. But, ''we don't have the international experience Germany has.''

While France's young players slumped to the ground and some shed tears after the final whistle, the Germans soberly saluted all corners of the Maracana Stadium.

One job done, nothing more.

And next up for Germany is a meeting with host nation Brazil, which beat Colombia 2-1 later Friday. It will be Germany's 13th appearance in the semifinals in 20 editions of the World Cup.

''I guess we're playing the kind of football which will give us a chance to win,'' said Hummels, who produced a couple of decisive blocks to snuff out two good chances for France striker Karim Benzema.

''We defended well today . I think we deserve to carry on.''

France struggled to impose the kind of attacking game that made the team one of the most exciting in Brazil during the group stage, although Benzema - the team's chief attacking threat - squandered chances in both halves.

Late in the first half, the Real Madrid striker seized on a rebound following Manuel Neuer's save from Mathieu Valbuena's shot but his close-range effort was deflected wide by Hummels. Then, in stoppage time, he created space for himself about eight yards out at an angle, but a fierce shot was swatted away by Neuer.

''We played like a team again,'' said Germany captain Philipp Lahm, who returned to right back in one of a string of tactically astute changes made by coach Joachim Loew. ''Overall it was a good performance from us.''

In Loew's eight-year tenure, Germany has reached the last four in every major tournament it has played - but remains without a title since winning the European Championships in 1996.

While the German team seemed comfortable at this level, the occasion was perhaps too much for a young, revamped France team playing together at the World Cup for the first time.

And it continued Germany's recent dominance over France at World Cups.

The most notorious of those previous meetings was in the 1982 semifinals in Spain, when Germany won on penalties following a 3-3 draw in a match marked by a late and high tackle by Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on France defender Patrick Battiston that escaped punishment.

That went down as one of the most riveting matches in World Cup history, but the rematch - 32 years on - couldn't have been more different.

A turgid first half was illuminated by the goal from Hummels, who held off Raphael Varane and met a typically dead-eye delivery from Toni Kroos with a header that gave goalkeeper Hugo Lloris no chance.

The warm and humid conditions played a part in the slow tempo of the game but France stepped up the pressure in the second half.

Benzema's late chance got French fans excited but Germany should have been 2-0 ahead by then, with Lloris saving a low shot by substitute Andre Schuerrle on a counter-attack.

''We just weren't efficient enough,'' said Valbuena, who sat, dejected, on the field after the final whistle. ''Our efforts just weren't enough, it's incredibly disappointing.''

Lineups:

France: Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Raphael Varane, Mamadou Sakho (Laurent Koscielny, 72), Patrice Evra; Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye (Loic Remy, 73), Blaise Matuidi; Mathieu Valbuena (Olivier Giroud, 85), Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema.

Germany: Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Hoewedes; Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Mesut Ozil (Mario Goetze, 83), Toni Kroos (Christophe Kramer, 90), Thomas Mueller; Miroslav Klose (Andre Schuerrle, 69).

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (51)
  • Turan and Pique on target as Barca comes from behind to down Gladbach

    Turan and Pique on target as Barca comes from behind to down Gladbach

    Second-half goals from Arda Turan and Gerard Pique saw Barcelona maintain its perfect start in the Champions League as the Blaugrana came from a goal down to defeat Borussia Monchengladbach by two goals to one. Gladbach, playing at home, had taken … More »

    FC Yahoo - 1 minute 43 seconds ago
  • GK Solo has shoulder replacement surgery

    GK Solo has shoulder replacement surgery

    Suspended U.S. national team goalkeeper Hope Solo says she has had shoulder replacement surgery. Solo was suspended for six months and her contract with U.S. Soccer was terminated last month following the Rio Olympics, where she drew criticism for … More »

    AP - Sports - 9 minutes ago
  • Mourinho mindful of another backlash against Rooney

    Mourinho mindful of another backlash against Rooney

    Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho may not start Wayne Rooney in the Europa League on Thursday, saying he wants to ''protect'' his captain from another media backlash if he has a poor performance. Rooney, who was dropped for United's last … More »

    AP - Sports - 16 minutes ago
  • Vardy is a 'genetic freak' like Bolt, says Leicester City scientist

    Vardy is a 'genetic freak' like Bolt, says Leicester City scientist

    By Chris Bertram MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - England striker Jamie Vardy is a "genetic freak" like nine-times Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt, Leicester City's head of sport science Kevin Paxton said. Vardy enjoys an unorthodox lifestyle in … More »

    Reuters - 23 minutes ago
  • Mexico-based midfielder Pizarro gets first Argentina call

    Mexico-based midfielder Pizarro gets first Argentina call

    Mexico-based midfielder Guido Pizarro was called up for the first time by Argentina on Wednesday for their 2018 World Cup qualifiers next month. Pizarro, who plays for UANL Tigres in the Liga MX, was one of four players coach Edgardo Bauza added to … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 5 minutes ago