France boss Didier Deschamps believes his side are on course to be immortalised in the affections of the nation after reaching the final of Euro 2016 at the expense of a blunt Germany.
A goal in each half from forward Antoine Griezmann propelled France to their first European Championship final since 2000 and maintained his own position at the top of the Euro 2016 goalscoring charts. Griezmann’s tally stands at six, three clear of the chasing pack.
Les Bleus will now bid to replicate their successes of 1984 and 1998 in tournament finals on home soil when they face Portugal – a side they have recorded 10 successive wins against – at the Stade de France on Sunday.
“This is a great story. The players wrote history by knocking out Germany,” said Deschamps. “Because we’ve knocked out Germany that doesn’t give us extra powers, [but] we’re into the final and there’s a trophy up for grabs.
“When you see the passion and the fervour in the stands around the ground, this team has everything it takes to be loved. We don’t have the power to solve people’s problems but we can generate emotions so they forget their worries.”
Germany manager Joachim Low, meanwhile, remained steadfast in defeat, arguing fortune was the world champions’ only barrier after his side lost their fourth major tournament semi-final in the last six attempts.
“We didn’t have the luck we needed,” said Low. “In 2010 and 2012 when we went out, the sides were better than us. Today, we were better than France but for the goals and result.”
France had not beaten Germany at a major tournament since 1958 but they made a powerful start and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was required to repel a low, placed Griezmann effort on seven minutes.
The pendulum of the frenetic opening switched and for the rest of the half Germany dominated. Liverpool’s Emre Can was denied by a one-handed save from Tottenham stopper Hugo Lloris, who also tipped over a Bastian Schweinsteiger drive.
Despite Germany dictating the play and bossing possession, Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud suddenly found himself clear shortly before the break, but lacked the pace or awareness of the supporting Griezmann and was caught by retreating centre-half Benedikt Howedes.
Les Bleus opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time as Griezmann became the first France player since Alain Giresse in the 1982 World Cup to score against Germany at a major tournament when he dispatched a penalty after Schweinsteiger was adjudged to have handled.
The last time Germany won after being 1-0 down at half time was in February 2013 against France, but despite continuing to dominate possession statistics, Low’s side failed to penetrate the increasingly comfortable France.
Twenty years without lifting the European Championship is Germany’s longest drought in the history of the tournament but the expected retaliation never materialised and Griezmann settled matters inside the final 20 minutes.
Manchester United target Paul Pogba showed considerable composure before lofting a cross which Neuer uncharacteristically flapped at, allowing Griezmann to prod home.
Germany eventually did muster some urgency, only for Joshua Kimmich’s curling effort to strike the outside of the post, while a stunning Lloris save denied the full-back late on.