France vs. Germany live team sheet

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Germany manager Joachim Low has sprung something of a surprise and recalled veteran striker Miroslav Klose for this afternoon's opening World Cup quarter-final against France at the Maracana Stadium.

A match that truly marks the business end of the tournament promises to be a fascinating tactical battle, particularly given Low's decision to drop Mario Gotze in favour Klose and restore Philipp Lahm to his more familiar position at right-back.

Mesut Ozil keeps his place despite struggling for large periods in Germany's nerve-shredding last 16-victory over Algeria but his Arsenal team-mate Per Mertesacker is not so fortunate, dropped to allow the returning Mats Hummels to take control in central defence.

Low's changes create a midfield battle full of quality and intrigue, as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira get ready to do battle with Paul Pogba, Blasie Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye.

France are also at full strength for a clash which gives them the perfect chance to gain revenge for a bitter, controversial semi-final defeat at the 1982 finals, with the team line-ups for a mouthwatering showdown as follows:

Germany:  Neuer, Howedes, Hummels, Boateng, Lahm, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Kroos, Muller, Klose

France: Lloris (c), Debuchy, Varane, Sakho, Evra, Cabaye, Pogba, Matuidi, Valbuena, Griezmann, Benzema

Les Blues boss Didier Deschamps has also made a few final tweaks to a winning formula which has looked wonderfully balanced so far in the tournament, with Arsenal duo Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny making way for Mohamed Sakho and and Antoine Griezmann.

Deschamps has shuffled his pack so that Karim Benzema moves back to the middle in search of his fourth goal of the South American showpiece, with Griezmann and Valbuena providing a contrast of pace and creative nous on either flank with a licence to roam.

Prediction: Coming into this clash it seems to be Germany feeling the weight of expectation to finally match talent to success at international level, while France have looked strong as a mix of youth and experience continues to grow thanks to new-found confidence and continuity that has been sorely lacking over the last four years.

Germany have yet to recapture the blistering form which saw them thrash Portugual in their tournament opener, but Thomas Muller and co. have the quality to turn it on when it really matters today.

Expect France to look dangerous on the break in a tight clash, but Germany have an excellent competitive record against Les Blues and will be confident of extending it by the narrowest of margins to set up a potential semi-final with hosts Brazil, but only just.

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