5 talking points as Euros favourites France get off to winning start vs Germany

Euro 2020 favourites France got their campaign off to a winning start by deservedly beating Germany 1-0 in Munich.

It was a fascinating battle between two of the heavyweights of European football, with these two countries having played and scored in more Euros games than any other nation.

France took the lead on 20 minutes after the unfortunate Mats Hummels could only divert a pullback from Lucas Hernandez into his own net for Germany.

Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema both had goals ruled out for offside after the break for Les Bleus, and although they were unable to extend their lead they managed to see the game out for a well-earned three points.

Here are five talking points from Munich…

France the real deal

France boast a formidable strength in depth

Just occasionally, there may be brief moments where you begin to dream that this really could be England’s time to end 55 years of hurt and finally win silverware.

Then, just as quickly as that optimism arrives, something as simple as looking at the France starting line-up can make you reassess everything and all hope disappears.

Let’s make no mistake about it: man for man, Les Bleus have by far the most talented squad in the competition, and there just does not appear to be any kind of weakness in their XI.

They were not even at their sparkling best tonight, but got the job done in an impressively efficient manner, and they could easily become unstoppable when Mbappe, Benzema and Antoine Griezmann hit their stride.

Even if they don’t, N’Golo Kante could probably pop up in their positions out of nowhere to contribute anyway, and they have ridiculous talent at the back too.

Even when they are fighting amongst themselves, as Mbappe and Olivier Giroud have been doing this week, France are still irrepressible, and it would take a very special team or a complete meltdown for them not to win this competition.

Sorry, England fans.

Germany shouldn’t be feared

Germany do not look like the fearsome outfit they were a few years ago
Germany do not look like the fearsome outfit they were a few years ago

On a more positive note…

“Never write off the Germans” – it is a phrase which has been ingrained into every England fan for as far back as we can remember.

But this time round there is a genuine belief that the Three Lions are actually a better team than their old enemy, and there was nothing on show tonight to suggest anything different.

Sure, they were up against the best team in the tournament, but Germany were still largely disappointing, and it is not often they are as easily out-played and out-fought as this.

They did improve in the second-half, with the likes of Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz coming into the game more.

But in reality it always looked more likely France would extend their lead than concede an equaliser, and the Germans constantly appeared susceptible on the counter-attack.

If this game and Portugal’s impressive win over Hungary are anything to go by, there is a strong possibility Germany could end up third, and we all know what that could mean…

But as long as England get over their past psychological scars, there is no reason why this time things couldn’t finally be different.

The Pogba conundrum

Paul Pogba was superb for France
Paul Pogba was superb for France

Just because it is the Euros, that does not mean the endless debates and arguments around the ever-Marmite Paul Pogba stop.

Indeed, a sizeable chunk of ITV’s match build-up was dominated by Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira disagreeing over just how good the Manchester United midfielder is.

But after another up-and-down season at Old Trafford the 28-year-old was brilliant again for his country tonight, pulling the strings from the middle of the park throughout.

And he had a big part to play in France’s opener after a sensational outside-of-the-boot pass to Hernandez which indirectly led to Hummels’ own goal.

Is Pogba better with better players? Does he just try harder in a France shirt than he does in a United one? Is it simply a question of him being happier in his surroundings on international duty?

Maybe we’ll never know the answer, but one thing is for sure: this will have been a highly frustrating watch for Red Devils fans, who do not see this version of Pogba anywhere near often enough.

Varane’s Man Utd audition

Raphael Varane was dominant at the back for France
Raphael Varane was dominant at the back for France

Speaking of France and United, one man who supporters of the club may have been watching with interest tonight is defender Raphael Varane.

The Real Madrid centre-back has been strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks, with suggestions a big-money bid could be forthcoming.

And the 28-year-old certainly did little to harm his prospects of a transfer with a terrific performance in Munich.

Varane looked effortlessly elegant at times, making some crucial interceptions and winning the vast majority of his duels with the Germany attack.

In fact, he was one of the big reasons why the game never really burst into life, as he snuffed out the opponents’ threat time and time again.

The prospect of Varane alongside Harry Maguire at the back for United is a mouthwatering one, and judging by this showing they should do anything possible to make the move happen.

Curious ‘bite’ incident

Antonio Rudiger appeared to aim a small bite at Pogba
Antonio Rudiger appeared to aim a small bite at Pogba

Along with a rogue parachuter protest at the start of the game, one of the most odd incidents this evening came near the end of the first-half.

Antonio Rudiger and Pogba were locked in intense conversation, and the Chelsea man then suddenly appeared to do a Luis Suarez by aiming a little bite at his Premier League rival’s back.

Pogba protested to the referee, but the incident was not reviewed and Rudiger was, perhaps luckily, not punished.

The ITV pundits appeared as bemused as the rest of us at half-time, although Keane described it as nothing more than a “nibble”.

Nevertheless, it was a bizarre risk for Rudiger to take, and it was not the first time the centre-back has used the dark arts to his advantage.

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