France vs Germany - Schweinsteiger fit to lead Germany against FranceThursday, July 07, 2016 Source: PA
Bastian Schweinsteiger will lead Germany onto the field for their Euro 2016 semi-final against France on Thursday night after being passed fit to play.
The Manchester United midfielder was a doubt due to a niggling injury he aggravated in the penalty shoot-out win over Italy in the quarter-finals, but Germany coach Joachim Low confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday that he is fit and will start.
"I have the team in my head and Bastian Schweinsteiger will definitely start," Low said in Marseille.
"I always said that if he trains 100 per cent without complaints then he will play.
"He trained this morning and had no complaints. The injury is cured and he showed against Italy he's got the strength to play from the start, and I believe he's very, very important, particularly in such a game - his experience is very valuable.
"We have three players - Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and Mats Hummels - who we have to replace, which is not easy, and this is why it is important that an experienced player like Bastian starts.
"If he's not strong enough to last the whole game, then we've got alternatives to come on later."
Low is therefore glad to be able to count on Schweinsteiger's years of international experience for what he expects to be his side's toughest game of Euro 2016, and also France's most difficult challenge.
"We're not playing against a team, we're playing against an entire country, so I wouldn't say we're favourites," Low said.
"Both teams have good quality and who shows this and makes fewer mistakes and takes their chances will win.
"We're going to be the toughest opponents France have had to face so far here. We're going to put everything into reaching the final."
That said, Germany do have more problems to contend with than their hosts, with the aforementioned absentees and the fact they played 120 minutes and penalties against Italy, while France swept Iceland aside comfortably with a 5-2 win.
However, Germany are focusing on attacking France's weaknesses, with Low insisting they do have some.
"They are the team with the best goals-per-chance ratio, they have players like Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi who attack from the midfield, they are in front of their own fans and their own country and they're going to put everything into it," he said.
"But every team has some problems - there's no such thing as a perfect team.
"Of course they dominated against Iceland, but I believe we've found some of their weaknesses and we've discussed it with our players - I don't want to reveal what they are, so let's just try to surprise them."
France boss Didier Deschamps has challenged his players to write another glorious chapter in the country's footballing history.
The French have not beaten the Germans in a competitive fixture since 1958, and Deschamps has no doubt Joachim Low's team, two years on from being crowned world champions, remain the best around - indeed, he feels they have given the "best impression" of any side at the tournament so far.
But he also has great faith in the ability of his men, who are looking to emulate the achievements of the France sides of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 1984 by winning a finals they are hosting.
Speaking on Wednesday at his press conference to preview the match in Marseille, Deschamps - France's captain for the 1998 triumph and when they won Euro 2000 - said: "No one can change history, but there are some new chapters to be written and the players can write them.
"This page is currently blank and they need to fill it tomorrow.
"The players have belief in themselves.
"We know who the opposition are. They are still the best side in the world - but we're really going to give it everything.
"Germany are used to dominating the opposition, but we can't simply go out there thinking about defending before trying to catch them out.
"We have an opportunity and we want to play to the best of our ability, with all the respect we have for the Germans.
"They are the reigning world champions and the side who have given the best impression over their first five matches.
"But we're here and we're going to give it everything we've got, with our qualities and attributes."
The group stage saw France beat Romania 2-1 and Albania 2-0 then draw 0-0 with Switzerland, and they subsequently came from behind to defeat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in the last 16 before thrashing Iceland 5-2 in the quarter finals.
Deschamps admits his side "have not done everything brilliantly" but is adamant they deserve to be in the last four and hopeful they can "create a big buzz" on Thursday.
"I don't know if they get the recognition they deserve or not," said the 47-year-old, whose team lost 1-0 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals.
"I have faith in them - I have been saying that since the start of the competition.
"We haven't done everything brilliantly thus far. But if we are in this position, it is because the players deserve it.
"Then it is another story altogether - we are playing Germany, the best side in the competition. And a big performance against Germany would obviously create a big buzz."