Germany v France
Date: 07 July 2016
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseilles
Hearts beat erratically out of chests as the French team walked out of the tunnel to whistles and cheers. This match was decisive and Coach had warned them that there was no room for error tonight because “You’ve spent two years preparing for this moment, and any result other than a victory is not acceptable.” The team was also told to play as if their lives depended on it. Ray was both anxious and nervous and he took to biting his fingernails during the speech. He knew what was at stake if Les Bleus made even one mistake.
“We’re going to do fine, Ray,” Giroud assured him. “Don’t worry,” he turned to Griezmann. “Our little Monsieur Plus will score and dedicate the goal to you. Right?”
Griezmann nodded, his head already on the game on hand. “Of course,”
Marcus patted Ray’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, bro, today, Die Mannschaft will die!” he playfully promised.
Mandanda pointed at him. “I see what you did there,”
When the coaches emerged, the German head coach, Joachim Löw walked over to greet the French coaches. Marcus scoffed and looked at the man’s offered hand. “If I were you, I’d keep my hand to myself.”
Löw only smiled and wished the French good luck to which Marcus harshly replied, “We don’t need it,”
Ray smiled at the German coach and politely replied, “Merci,”
His twin scoff. “Would it kill you not to be nice for once? Don’t bother. The only thing that man would be smelling tonight is defeat.”
The match started well for both sides, notably for the French. Griezmann fired away at the Germans forcing Manuel Neuer into a save. A few minutes after a nervy start from the Germans, they gained rhythm and control of the game forcing the French to retreat to their half. Marcus uttered a grunt when Lloris was forced to make a wonderful save to deny the Germans an early lead. He got up and started pacing by the sideline prompting the French fans to start singing the ‘La Marseillaise’ at the top of their lungs. Marcus cringed, wishing they’ll shut up so he could concentrate on the game at hand. Some of them were butchering the anthem and it … “Lazy bastard! My goodness, Giroud, what the heck was that?” he shouted. “You call that a run? Is that even a run? What in the world?” he threw his hands in the air and shook his head. “You won’t outrun Tom Cruise with a run like that. Heck, even I can run faster than that!””
“Germany is getting the better of France,” the stadium commentator relied to his faithful listeners. “They currently have the French pegged back in their own half as they boss possession. If France wants to prove their worth, this is definitely the match as many felt that the French have not been properly tested as yet. Their head coach is currently shaking his head at Giroud’s running blunder.”
Löw started asking more of his team when Griezmann hit the side netting. He was secretly delighted when Marcus slapped his thigh in frustration for the umpteenth time. He wondered what the Frenchman’s problem was anyway. Didn’t he know that Germany had a better winning advantage against the French on the big stage? He couldn’t wait to beat the French and send them packing.
“Germany is hogging ball possession as expected,” the commentator slightly chuckled. “But Marcus is not throwing in the white flag. He knew this would happen, and he changed tactics for tonight’s match knowing that France wouldn’t be seeing much of the ball. They’re currently playing on the counter attack and … is that a handball from Schweinsteiger?” the commentator’s tone excitedly rose when the referee waved a yellow card at the tall, lanky German midfielder. “PENALTY FOR FRANCE!!”
Ray and the benched players rose and walked to the sideline to support their team just as Griezmann stepped up to the spot. Marcus had his hands on his waist. The referee blows the whistle and the Frenchman calmly struck home sending the big German goalie the wrong way.
Marcus whooped in joy.
Ray and the substitutes screamed.
The Stade Velodrome was rocking.
“FRANCE IS IN THE LEAD! Great penalty at the death from Griezmann. And he’s doing his now infamous ‘Hotline Bling’ celebration. You can’t hate him. I don’t care who you are, you just can’t hate him. Oh, now he’s rushing over to the sideline.”
Fans erupted as Griezmann rushed over to his mates and hugged Ray. “This one’s for you, coach!”
Giroud was grinning like an adorable fool. “I hope it calms you down until the next half,”
The pressure still mounted for the French in the second half, but they were crossing all their t’s and dotting all their i’s as far as Marcus was concerned. He stuck a stick of cinnamon chewing gum in his mouth and made a sour face as Koscielny’s header went wide. Hugo Lloris was an impenetrable wall keeping everything out and Ray thought it was his best match yet. The first half had belonged to the French captain.
“We’re heading into twenty remaining minutes plus additional stoppage time,” the commentator relay. “France is still in the lead. Who would’ve thought that a young man from Paris would’ve been leading this team to a possible victory against the Germans for the first time since 1958? The French coach is practically outwitting the experienced Löw. It’s as if Marcus has no respect for the ones before him! Disrespectful and shameless! Qualities that you won’t see coaches have lately.”
Ray was on his feet encouraging the fans to make more noise just as Marcus replaced Dimitri Payet for N’Golo Kanté. Someone threw a French flag at him and he had draped it over his shoulders like a cape as he raised his hands in the air.
“Get in boys!” Marcus clapped and shouted from the sideline infuriating the German boss. “This is our house! Show them the door.”
“The French coach is such a motivator by the sideline there! He’s in high spirits and why shouldn’t he be? His team is in front and they have one leg in the final courtesy a Griezmann penalty. Oh, oh! This looks like trouble for the Germans. Pogba’s lifted it in, away by Neuer, and MR.HOTLINEBLING STABS HOME FOR A 2-0 LEAD!! PARIS, THE FRENCH ARE COMING! THIS SURELY IS THE END FOR GERMANY!”
Marcus and Ray hugged each other as the team jumped on them. This goal was surely the path to the finals. It didn’t matter what Germany did after, they were done for. The goal lifted spirits around the stadium.
“ALLEZ LES BLEUS! ALLEZ LES BLEUS! ALLEZ LES BLEUS!” the French fans sang, drowning out the Germans and believing in their team more than ever.
Lloris made a clinical save in stoppage time denying Germany.
The French fans urged the referee to blow the whistle.
The dejected German fans looked glum and Marcus was certain the majority of them were now sorry for making fun of the French during pre-match. He didn’t care. This was what he was hired for. This was the moment he dreamt of. The moment he lived for and now that it was happening, he felt nothing but joy inside for the French nation who was still reeling from the terrorist attacks. At the beginning of the tournament, they had doubted his capabilities as the new coach, doubted his selection, and even poked fun at a few players. Now, they were united and the players were responsible for it. He hoped that France could bring home the victory on Sunday because the nation deserved to be happy after taking a harsh beating.
“THEY’RE THROUGH TO THE FINALS! FRANCE DID IT! Only time will tell if this new French generation will rule in years to come.”
The team celebrated in front of their fans in one united accord taking inspiration from the Icelandic ‘Viking Chant’. Marcus shook his head and turned to his brother. “This is going to bother a lot of people,”
Ray only shrugged. “They should be honored that we’re paying homage to them.”
Marcus had skipped the mixed zone after France defeated Germany and opted to sit it out in the locker room as he strategized for the final with his brother. Two days later, he found himself in front of the nosy journalists with Hugo Lloris and Bacary Sagna.
“We want to put a smile on the faces of the French people. We can’t change the past, but we are trying hard to build for the future.” Sagna explained.
Marcus gulped some water from the glass in front of him as his captain reminiscences about the tragic events last November. “We’ve had some very tough times this year, both with those tragic events (the terror attack) but also with events that have gone on off the field. But we’re even prouder to be on the pitch to feel the entire French population behind us, to feel this happiness which is shared between the players and the French people. That gives us strength and is lovely to see.
“The French people really needed to escape via this competition, and sport has this strength: to unite people. We are currently experiencing that. But we still have one step to take, the hardest one, but one’s that’s worth it.”
Sagna and Marcus nodded in approval.
“Are you ready to face Cristi…”
Marcus cut the offending journalist off. “We won’t be playing against Cristiano, but Portugal. And yes, we’re ready. The team is in the right mind and they have the right approach to the most important goal at hand. Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre.”
“Joachim Löw thinks that the twenty-four teams were too many during this Euro. Do you agree with him?”
“Then he should’ve forfeited Germany before the tournament. He didn’t say this before he arrived so why bring it up now? Had he beaten us he would’ve never sung that tune. That is call BTLT.”
“BTLT?” someone asked from the front just as Lloris and Sagna looked at their coach in confusion.
Marcus nodded. “Bitter typical loser tantrum.”
“Löw said he expects France to win given that Portugal hasn’t convinced him in this tournament. Are you that confident?”
“On Sunday,” Marcus began. “Les Bleus is going to play in front of France and they’re going to do her proud. They’re going to give their all while wearing their hearts on the sleeve. They’re going to give the people of France something to remember in years to come. We don’t need luck. We have France with us.”
^ Antoine Griezmann is known as ‘Grizou’, ‘Grizi’ or simply ‘Anto’ to his French colleagues. Giroud decided he must add to it by calling him ‘our little Monsieur Plus’. I think I like this one better given the circumstances that Griezmann had to overcome to reach where he is now. Could you imagine that he was told he was too small to play football (just like Messi)? Look where he is now. Leading France to victory.
^ Prior to Germany v France, France’s only competitive finals win against Germany was a third-place play-off in 1958. The final score? 6-3.
^ Snippets of Lloris and Sagna’s words of the interview was taken via telegraph.co.uk.
^ Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre – All things come to those who wait (French)
^ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN! You can’t hate him. Watch clips of his wonderful performance against Germany here:
REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.