World Cup Champions France drew 0-0 against former Champions Germany in UEFA Nations League A.

France, who won 2018 World Cup, never hit top form in UEFA Nations League opener against Germany and ended up with a 0-0 draw on Thursday for their first match since lifting the World Cup.

Germany won back some honor with a tough performance in Munich, after their shock World Cup group-stage exit in Russia, their earliest exit in 80 years in the tournament.

The French side seemed to be in a vacation phase post-World Cup and lacked their usual speed and style but their goalkeeper Alphonse Areola‘s key saves in the match saved them from an ugly defeat.

The Nations League, a branch of European soccer body, UEFA, aims to boost interest in the autumn and spring internationals, which were seen by clubs and fans as disruptive and useless to the domestic football season. The competition is said to be held every two years and to feature all 55 of Europe’s national teams divided into four divisions and further split into four groups. The games will be played between September and November.

The Germans started with four central defenders which aren’t their usual style. Joshua Kimmich switched from right back to a holding midfield position which was coach Joachim Low‘s way of striking a better balance between attack and defense than his team had done in Russia. His France counterpart Didier Deschamps played his World Cup final team, including Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, and Paul Pogba, apart for injured keeper Hugo Lloris, with Areola making his debut.

Neither sides were keen on risking much but had a chance each in the first half, a blocked Olivier Giroud header for France and Germany forward Timo Werner‘s low shot.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer did well to save a Griezmann’s effort just past the hour but it was Areola who made the saves of the day, first punching Marco Reus‘ close-range effort wide. The 25-year-old, who only got to start because Lloris and Steve Mandanda were injured, denied Mats Hummels, tipped a Thomas Muller chip over the bar and stopped Matthias Ginter from securing a goal from close range as the hosts grew in confidence but ran out of time.

Areola’s six saves were the most by any French goalkeeper in 54 matches of official competition since 2012.

France face the Netherlands on 10th September while Germany too face Netherlands in the next UEFA Nations League match on 14th October.

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