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Andre Schurrle helps Germany see out simple win over France in the quarterfinals

Julian Finney

Despite the names and nations involved -- or perhaps precisely because of it -- this game won't be remembered among the World Cup classics.  A surprisingly low quality, low intensity, almost leisurely affair played out in the iconic Maracanã, Germany's 13th minute goal proving good enough to secure progress into the semifinal.  The goal itself was uninspiring as well, Mats Hummels winning (maybe unfairly) the aerial duel with Raphaël Varane to head Toni Kroos's perfectly flighted free kick past Hugo Lloris.

Perhaps the only guy to truly stand out was in fact Mats Hummels.  The German defender and part-time pirate-lookalike not only scored but made at least two crucial blocks to deny Karim Benzema who, with Griezman and Valbuena both subpar, posed France's only real threat.  After missing Germany's match against Algeria with illness, I'm sure Löw was counting his lucky stars that he could replace the lumbering and bad Per Mertesacker with Hummels.

Löw made three additional changes from the previous round, his choices, in retrospect, signaling his conservative intentions.  Philip Lahm was restored to right back, Miroslav Klose restored to striker, while the tried-n-true combination of Khedira and Schweinsteiger controlled the middle.  Flashback to normalcy!

While it was disappointing to see André Schürrle starting on the bench once again, starting an actual center forward made more sense under the circumstances and for the game-plan.  And sure enough, after almost 70 minutes making both Varane and Sakho work, Klose (still looking for his record-breaking 16th World Cup goal) was replaced by Schürrle, who slotted in at right wing with Thomas Müller assuming a striker-ish role.  Löw's plan bore fruit almost immediately with the aforementioned duo combining to make fools of France's left side, only for Müller to drag his shot wide.  A few minutes later, the script was re-executed, this time Hugo Lloris saving well from Schürrle.  And it was the Chelsea man who once again could've sealed the deal two minutes from time, but his left-footed finish off Müller's low cross was straight at the French goalkeeper.  All-in-all, it was once again a good showing from young André, his pace and directness ideally suited to exploit France who had to press for the equalizer (even though they hardly created anything).

Germany now await the winner of Brazil and Colombia.  André Schürrle meanwhile becomes the first Chelsea player to make it to a World Cup semifinal since five did it in 2006 (Claude Makélélé, William Gallas, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Robert Huth - though both Gallas and Huth left the club later that summer).

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