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FOOTBALL

France ponders how to slay US Goliath in World Cup semi-final

As the women's World Cup gets down to the last four, France coach Bruno Bini believes his side will have to call on all their giant-killing skills to get past the United States in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

France ponders how to slay US Goliath in World Cup semi-final
France celebrates its win against England. Photo: DPA

With the big dangers Germany and Brazil already eliminated, the United States are the only remaining pre-tournament favourites in the running.

Despite struggling to reach the Germany 2011 competition, the Americans have never failed to qualify for the global tournament and were twice champions – winning the inaugural event in 1991 and again in 1999.

As well as being ranked number one in the world by FIFA, the United States are also the reigning and three-time Olympic champions.

France, by contrast, are a team on the rise after failing to get past the group stages in their only previous appearance on the world stage in 2003.

Comparing the two nations is impossible, Bini said.

“They are the number one nation in the FIFA rankings. They have 2.5 million club players. It’s sure that it’s easier to find 21 than when you have 55,000 club players to chose from,” said Bini.

“But you’re not under-19 European champions, European quarter-finalists and World Cup semi-finalists without being competent in some way.”

Both sides have had very similar paths to the semi-finals, finishing second in their respective groups after losing one of their games.

France fell 4-2 to Germany in Group A, while the United States were shocked 2-1 to Sweden in Group C.

They are also both coming from bruising quarter-finals needing dramatic penalty shoot outs before advancing after a gruelling 120 minutes of play.

The United States got past Brazil 5-3 on penalties after the match ended 2-2 after extra-time on Sunday, a day after France achieved a 4-3 penalty win over England after their tie had ended 1-1.

The extra day could prove important, Bini believes.

“We have an extra day to prepare for the next match at least,” he said.

Defender Laura Georges, one of the French team’s contingent of ten players from Champions League winning side Lyon, believes France have a fighting chance in the most important game of their careers.

“They (the US) are solid, tactically very well organised and athletically very strong. We’re going to really test ourselves on that level. They have a real athletics culture.

“But eveything is to play for as it is in every match,” said Georges.

USA coach Pia Sundhage believes that her side’s strong past record has proved an enormous help when they are in a tight corner.

“One of the advantages of the United States team is that we have been winning gold, silver and bronze medals since 1991,” said the Swedish-born coach. “This is something when we’re pushed into a corner we can look back at but be humble about as well.”

Wednesday’s second semi-final sees Sweden take on Japan, with the final taking place in Frankfurt on July 17, a day after the third-place playoff.

AFP/djw

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FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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