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EURO NOTES: Titanic group-stage clash between France and Germany

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Back when the Euro was an eight-team tournament, opening-round clashes between world powers was common.

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So, when Germany host France in a Group F game Tuesday (3 p.m. ET, TSN) in Munich, it will be a throwback to the days before the tournament expanded to 16 teams and then to the current 24-team format.

France are defending FIFA World Cup champions, while Germany are three-time European champions and have made the final six times.

“It’s an important match for both teams in a very difficult group,” said France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on Monday. “France are the World Cup champions and Germany might be in a rebuilding phase at this moment, but they have a good mix of young players and those with experience.

“They have players who have won a lot at their clubs, so they’re very motivated and very eager. There are high expectations at this tournament, and they are playing at home, so it’s going to be a very difficult match for us.”

France and Germany have had epic encounters in major tournaments of the past, usually in the latter parts of competitions.

Five years ago, France defeated Germany 2-0 in the Euro 2016 semifinal before losing to Portugal in the final. Two years later, France went on to win the World Cup, while Germany crashed out in the group stage for the first time in its history, losing to both Mexico and South Korea.

“We know that France has been playing successful football in the last few years and they have some great players,” said German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. “I still think we’re also a good team and we’re a team that is difficult to play against. We have respect for them, but it’s not like we are the big underdog, we want to win the match here in Munich.”

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France’s players attend an MD-1 training session at the Allianz Arena in Munich on June 14, 2021, on the eve of their UEFA EURO 2020 football match against Germany.
France’s players attend an MD-1 training session at the Allianz Arena in Munich on June 14, 2021, on the eve of their UEFA EURO 2020 football match against Germany. Photo by FRANCK FIFE /Getty Images

SCOTTISH LAMENT

Getting an opportunity to play two of its three Group D games at home, Scotland were optimistic heading into its opener against the Czech Republic in Glasgow on Monday.

Two goals from Czech striker Patrik Schick, however, put a dent to that as Scotland fell 2-0. Schick scored on a header just before half time and then netted the goal of the tournament so far, lofting a shot from just over half into the top corner as Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall desperately scrambled to get back in his net.

“There was a deflected ball, and I took a look to see where he (goalkeeper) was standing and he was pretty high,” Schick said. “I checked again, and I fired.”

Marshall was well outside his penalty area as play was in the Czech end of the field when the ball rebounded back the other way and Schick took the shot from 45 metres out.

“It’s a fantastic finish,” said Scotland coach Steve Clark. “Instead of assigning blame (on Marshall), sometimes you have to give credit to the goal scorer.”

OPEN THE GATES

The British government has decided to increase capacity at Wembley Stadium from 22,500 to 40,000 for games after the group stage.

Current capacity is set for roughly 25 per cent at the 80,000-seat venue in London. It will be increased to 50 per cent starting in a Round of 16 game on June 29, which could feature England if they win its group.

In total, Wembley is hosting eight games in the tournament, including a pair of second-round games, both semifinals and the final.

Currently the only venue at full capacity is the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary, which seats over 67,000. Hungary hosts Portugal on Tuesday in the first of four games at the venue.

Email: dvandiest@postmedia.com

On Twitter:@DerekVanDiest

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