Issues are mounting for two European powers as Germany and France are set to meet in an international friendly match Friday at Stade De France in Saint-Denis.
France coach Didier Deschamps must find either a short or long-term replacement for superstar striker Karim Benzema, who’s embroiled in a sex-tape extortion scandal involving teammate Mathieu Valbuena, while Germany coach Joachim Loew faces scrutiny over the resignation of federation president Wolfgang Neirsbach and a questionable payment to FIFA.
But all of the distractions away from the pitch only increase pressure for Euro 2016 host France and defending World Cup champion Germany.
Les Bleus have enjoyed four straight victories to start this season’s international campaign, and have taken five of their last eight since March, most recently a 2-1 victory over Denmark with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud picking up the brace on Oct. 11.
The 29-year-old Giroud, along with forward Antoine Griezmann, stand to benefit the most from Benzema’s absence and could become Deschamps’ most prized attackers. Together they’ve scored three goals in international play this season.
While Loew and his squad deal with Neirsbach’s alleged payment and tax evasion scrutiny dating back to the 2006 World Cup, they do have the luxury of working out any kinks in the line after already qualifying for next year’s Euro competition after a 2-1 defeat of Georgia.
Midfielder Max Kruse was the hero of that match, scoring the go-ahead goal in the 79th minute on top of Thomas Muller’s penalty 29 ticks earlier.
With Marco Reus expected to sit out due to injury, Wolfsburg’s Kruse and recently called up and 30-year-old forward Mario Gomez and Julian Draxler could feature more in Loew’s attack.
They’ll join Schalke's rising midfield star Leroy Sane at the front of the attack. The 19-year-old’s scored four goals and assisted three more in Bundesliga play this season and that’s earned him a first career cap from Loew.
Draxler dealt with myriad injuries last season and appeared in just 15 Bundesliga matches for Schlake, but has returned to form with Wolfsburg.
"I was very pleased to be selected. The faces largely remained the same," Draxler said according to Goal.com. "It's been a long time since I was here and I am pleased to be able to play again.
"I couldn't show good performances for quite a time, which had to do with my injury. You have to play on top level to be in the national team. The selection from the coach has shown that he sees me back on the right path."
There’s little question the Germans are still one of the most feared clubs in the world, but silencing one of their oldest rivals and border-neighbor could go a long way in erasing the 1-0 upset loss to Republic of Ireland back on Oct. 8.
Prediction: Germany over France, 3-2