By TIM FONTENAULT
An outbreak of the flu was not enough to stop Germany from making World Cup history.
Mats Hummels’ header in the 13th minute was all the scoring the Germans needed to defeat France in the quarterfinals and advance to their fourth straight semifinal, a new World Cup record.
France’s World Cup run ends sooner than they hoped, but it is a run that comes with optimism. After a miserable campaign in 2010, France, now younger and revitalized, is set up for long-term success.
The French were in the match throughout, but one mistake from Raphael Varane proved to be the difference. Toni Kroos played a free kick into the box, where Varane gave Hummels too much space. Despite facing away from goal, Hummels was able to flick the ball into the back of the net.
With only the one goal in the game, Germany relied on Manuel Neuer to keep France from equalizing. Late in the first half, Karim Benzema nearly put the tying goal in, but Neuer got to it at the last second, pushing the ball out of harm’s way.
Germany did not threaten often in the second half, but the times they did get close to the net, Hugo Lloris put a stop to their chances.
France had more chances in a match with 50-50 possession, but their golden opportunity came just before the final whistle, when Benzema sprung clear from the left side of the box. Neuer had to get a hand to the ball at the last second to prevent extra time.
Germany’s victory comes at the end of a week that saw several players affected by the flu, including Hummels. Manager Joachim Low downplayed the serious of the situation on Thursday, saying that he expected everyone to be fit by the kickoff. The only player missing for Germany was Shkodran Mustafi, who suffered a muscle injury against Algeria.