RIO DE JANEIRO – Germany beat France 1-0 and secured itself a place in World Cup history on Friday by qualifying for the semifinals for the fourth straight tournament.
A goal from Mats Hummels in the 13th minute was enough to seal the contest at the iconic Maracana Stadium and the Germans will now face the winner of Friday’s other quarterfinal between host nation Brazil and in-form Colombia, in Fortaleza.
[Related video: Manuel Neuer saves Germany's day]
"You have to fight against France. We knew that France was among the top teams. It was certainly not going to be a walk in the park," Hummels said.
No other nation has shown the level of historic World Cup consistency as that managed by Germany, and it swept to yet another last-four place here. While France fought hard to overcome the deficit, it was unable to breach Germany’s no-nonsense and ever-present defensive wall.
"Germany is accustomed to big matches. It is a very experienced team," France coach Didier Deschamps said. "It scored early on a dead ball and we were a little timid in the beginning of the game but we made some good movements and had some good chances in certain situations.
"But we were not efficient."
German sub Andre Schurrle missed two clear chances to ice the game in the final 10 minutes, but in the end it mattered little as Joachim Loew’s side kept on rolling.
Loew lauded Neuer's play and leadership. "Since 2010 he has been among the very best in the world if not the best in the world," Loew said. "He is so calm and cool and that gives players so much confidence on the pitch."
Germany is not the flashiest team in this tournament but it is undeniably one of the best, and now sits two wins away from the title. Loew, though, isn't looking past the semifinals.
"Well, we'll see how it goes on. I mean, the teams in the semifinals are the teams with the most outstanding qualities," he said. "In the last World Cups we have been among the last four permanently … That's quite a performance. ...
"Players from Bayern Munich have already won titles in the Champions League and that was important for them. But for us, now it's a matter of playing in the semifinal. Brazil and Colombia are two tough teams."
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