Euro 2016: Deschamps' dilemma - go at Germany, or play it safe?
|Germany v France|
|Date: Thursday, 7 July Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille Kick-off: 20:00 BST|
|Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live, and text commentary online & on BBC Sport app|
France coach Didier Deschamps has got some big decisions to make about who he is going to play in Thursday's Euro 2016 semi-final against Germany and how he is going to approach the match.
It is no coincidence that Antoine Griezmann played so well in their 5-2 quarter-final win over Iceland because he was in his favoured position, behind the striker, rather than out wide on the right.
He plays centrally for his club side Atletico Madrid and he is much more productive there. Even his body language looks much better, because he clearly doesn't want to be tracking back and chasing full-backs into his own half - all of his energy should be used for the creative side he is so good at.
But to play Griezmann in that number 10 role, Deschamps will have to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation he used against Iceland - rather than the 4-3-3 he had favoured previously in this tournament.
To do that, he will have to leave out one of his holding midfielders - N'Golo Kante, who was suspended last time out, Paul Pogba or Blaise Matuidi.
Why Kante has to play
With France up against Germany, I think that Kante has to play in this game. He would actually be my first choice ahead of Pogba or Matuidi.
His ability to break up play and cover his back four will be crucial against Germany because Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil will always look to get in those pockets of space behind the France midfield and in front of their defence.
Kante's awareness, speed and work-rate means he will be excellent at dealing with that. For me, he should play whatever selection and shape Deschamps decides upon.
I have a feeling he will go back to 4-3-3, which will be more solid, and only go to a more attacking shape when they need to - most managers would do this.
Most managers would do that, but I would personally be tempted to pick Kante and Pogba and leave Matuidi out because, although he is very effective at what he does, he is the least gifted of the three.
That way Deschamps can play 4-2-3-1 and use Griezmann centrally, and really play on the front foot.
If France let Germany have too much of the ball and dictate play then we have seen what they can do, but if they have a go at them then there are definitely areas where they can hurt the world champions.
No Gomez, no focal point for Germany
Germany changed their shape to play Italy, going with three centre-halves to match the Italians' formation.
I would imagine they will go back to playing four across the back in Marseille, because the French play that way and Germany prefer it anyway.
Mats Hummels is suspended but I don't think that is too big a blow because they have Shkodran Mustafi to come in alongside Jerome Boateng at the back. The Valencia defender played instead of Hummels in their opening game against Ukraine - when Hummels was also suspended - and scored.
Their manager Joachim Low is not exactly struggling in midfield either, even without Sami Khedira.
But, up front, Mario Gomez is a big miss. They have definitely been better at this tournament when he has been on the pitch because he is a physical presence and a focal point for them.
Gomez is a big powerful striker and, when he plays, they do not have to play their way through - they can knock balls up to him and he can feed their runners into the box.
Giroud offers more than just goals
In Olivier Giroud, France have got a striker who performs that Gomez role and does just as much for his team.
Yes he has spells where he struggles in front of goal, but overall his contribution is always positive. He has his critics, for Arsenal and his national side, but he is very good at ignoring them and just cracking on.
His best quality is his perseverance. He never hides, he just keeps trying to do the right things in the right areas and, when he is used correctly he is perfect because he knows exactly how to play his role - stay high up the pitch, occupy the two centre-halves and be strong on the ball.
In terms of build-up play and giving you the right options I always thought that, as a midfielder, I would really enjoy playing with him.
I understand why Arsenal fans want a striker who will get you 25 goals a season instead, but he is not that prolific a player.
Judge him for what he gives the team instead, and the fact he always gives his all and is reliable. If France are to beat Germany, he will play a big part even if he does not get on the scoresheet.
Germany look confident - they always do
If I was to pick a winner then Gomez's absence certainly swings the momentum to France, but it is going to be such a close game.
Germany's quarter-final against Italy went to penalties and could have gone either way, which will give the French encouragement because they have got more flair and creativity than the Italians.
Deschamps and his players have also got belief and a spring in their step after the way they defeated Iceland but they remain vulnerable defensively and Germany are patient, strong and methodical.
The world champions have looked full of confidence since the tournament started - they always do - and they have improved as it has gone on.
My football brain still thinks France should beat them but the way Germany are makes it impossible to bet against them.
Danny Murphy was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan in France.