Jul 4, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
Germany and France square off in the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Friday with the whole world tuned in to see the European giants clash.
These old foes were both undefeated throughout the group stage and despite being pushed all the way in their last 16 ties, this is the big one.
A virus has been tearing through Germany’s squad, while France have been going about their business very quietly.
FOLLOW LIVE: France vs. Germany
Both managers make changes as Didier Deschamps drops Olivier Giroud for Antoine Griezmann, while Joachim Low replaces center back Per Mertsesacker with striker Miroslav Klose as Philipp Lahm slots to right back and Jerome Boateng moves into the center of defense. Sami Khedira starts in central midfield for Germany.
Will this reshuffle unnerve Germany and can France keep riding the wave of euphoria to the final four?
France: Lloris, Debuchy, Varane, Sakho, Evra, Pogba, Cabaye, Matuidi, Valbuena, Benzema, Griezmann
Germany: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Höwedes; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Müller, Kroos, Özil; Klose
– Can France’s midfield overpower Germany?
With Lahm moving to full back, Germany will have Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira in the engine room. Can they cope with the dynamism and skill of Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi? Pogba has especially impressed and if the German fail to shackle his surging runs from midfield, Das Mannschaft could be in big trouble.
– Will Klose’s predatory talents prove the difference?
Miroslav Klose is chasing the title of being the all-time leading scorer at the World Cup. He already equaled Ronaldo’s record of 15th WC finals goals and he gets the nod up top for Germany. Is this the moment, in his final WC match if Germany lose, that 36-year-old Klose etches his name into the World Cup record books?
- MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 2-1 Toronto FC 2
- EURO 2016 qualifying roundup: Germany back on track; Portugal beat Serbia, go top 0
- Report: Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner set to sell team to UK group 0
- MLS roundup: Whitecaps, D.C. United win late ones; FCD, Sounders in disappointing draw 1
- MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 0-0 Seattle Sounders 0
- MLS Snapshot: Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Portland Timbers 2