Germany booked their passage to a 13th World Cup semi-final appearance thanks to a 1-0 win over France in Rio De Janeiro on Friday.
France came into the game having arguably shown the better form, but they were undone by a first-half header from Mats Hummels at the Maracana.
Joachim Low made a host of changes, with Philipp Lahm reverting to right-back and Miroslav Klose deployed as a genuine striker, and Germany looked far better balanced as a result.
But for all the bright early play from Germany, the first couple of chances of note fell to France.
Mathieu Valbuena's clever run took him into space, and he dinked a pass into the path of Karim Benzema, but he failed to find the target with his volley.
Shortly afterwards, on 11 minutes, Antoine Griezmann galloped into space beyond the Germany back line, but his square ball in search of Benzema was poor, and Germany were able to smuggle the ball clear.
Hummels was the player who cleared it; two minutes later he was in action at the other end to put Germany in front.
A wicked free-kick delivery from Toni Kroos invited Hummels to attack the ball, and he did not disappoint. Showing too much strength for marker Raphael Varane, Hummels used the pace of the ball to glance his header beyond Hugo Lloris.
That was the perfect demonstration of pure, natural talent. Amazing technique on the delivery and header.— Neri Stein (@neristein) July 4, 2014
On 25 minutes, Germany had appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Nestor Pitana. Mathieu Debuchy had a grab of Klose's shirt, but the Germany forward fell to the floor in dramatic fashion. That almost certainly counted against him in the eyes of Pitana, who wagged a dismissive finger at the striker.
Germany's high defensive line offered hope to France, and Griezmann escaped down the right on 34 minutes before firing a fine low cross into the path of Valbuena. The midfielder took one touch before firing a shot towards the bottom corner, but Manuel Neuer dived to his left to keep the effort out.
Benzema was a threat for France, but the gulf between creating chances and taking them was too far for the striker in the first half. He fired a shot straight at Neuer and also had a header charged down.
There was almost a hugely controversial moment at the start of the second half, as Patrice Evra dashed into the box to meet a free-kick but failed to make proper contact. Replays showed the French defender was clearly offside, so his failure to turn the ball beyond Neuer spared the officials' blushes.
France enjoyed a decent spell of pressure, and Varane aimed a header towards the top corner, but Neuer was able to stretch out his 6'4" frame and make the save.
Hummels scored the vital goal in the first half, but he showed his value as a defender with a brilliant block to thwart Benzema with 15 minutes remaining.
Germany substitute Andre Schurrle had two good chances to kill the game off but failed to find the target on both occasions. The missed chances did not come at a cost, as France were unable to find an equaliser—with Neuer making a late save to thwart Benzema.
While France's focus will now shift to the 2016 European Championship, which will be held on home soil, Germany power on.
Low's men will be interested spectators of the second game Friday, as they face the winner of the clash between Brazil and Colombia.
On this form, Germany will have high hopes of advancing to the final.
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Speaking after the game, per Fifa.com, Germany coach Low believes his side executed his plan extremely well.
I think both teams played well defensively today. There weren’t many goalscoring opportunities, which was part of our plan. We didn’t want to give France chances with the quality of strikers they possess.
We closed them down well, and that was the key. They did the same against us, because Yohan Cabaye and Paul Pogba are a great screen for the defence and we knew that we had to go wide in order to create chances, which is why I switched Philipp Lahm to the full-back position.
France gave everything to try to force the equaliser, but Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng were excellent and Manuel Neuer did well when called upon.
In the last four World Cups we've reached the semi-finals. That is a good achievement. We now need to take the next step.
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