Germany coach Jachim Low turned the heat on rivals France and said: “You have not faced a strong team so far,” ahead of their semifinal clash today.
Germany’s boss lit the touchpaper for semi-final clash against the hosts by adding: “We’re the strongest team they have faced.”
The French have turned their noses up at suggestions they were all but handed a bye into the last four.
Boss Didier Deschamps and his players have hit back at critics who claim the only reason Les Bleus have gone so far is because they faced Albania, Romania and Switzerland in their group and the Republic of Ireland and Iceland in the knockouts.
Low joined the doubters on the eve of the showdown in Marseilles when he said: “We are the strongest team they have faced so far. Maybe they haven’t had strong opposition yet.”
And, in another twist, Low then insisted world champs Germany were NOT favourites to win.
He said: “I don’t think we are. We won’t only play against a side, but against a whole country.
“After the win against Iceland they are very confident. This victory galvanised the side and the nation.
“Before the match it doesn’t matter who is the favourite.
“What matters is who will make fewer errors, create more chances and is more effective with
Low will be without the suspended Mats Hummels and the injured Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira.
The Germans will have only 16,000 fans in the 67,000-capacity Velodrome.
Midfielder Toni Kroos said: “There will be enthusiasm for France but they will also suffer pressure and we will be able to use that against them.”