- Lizarazu won World Cup '98 and Euro 2000 with France, plus five league titles with Bayern.
- Ex left-back says Kingsley Coman can hurt Germany.
- France host Die Nationalmannschaft in EURO 2016 semi-final non Thursday.
Kick-off in Germany’s UEFA EURO 2016 semi-final with France is drawing ever nearer and Bixente Lizarazu is a man in demand.
The 45-year-old is a former FIFA World Cup winner and European champion with France, but also spent seven years in the Bundesliga with FC Bayern München. Now a respected pundit in the French media, he is ideally placed to give his views on Thursday’s crunch game in Marseille, as he did in an exclusive chat with bundesliga.com.
bundesliga.com: Bixente Lizarazu, are games between France and Germany still something special to you?
Lizarazu: Absolutely. It’s my homeland against the country where I spent eight and a half years of my career at FC Bayern. It’s a great match-up – it could have been a dream final too.
bundesliga.com: How you do you assess the performances of Kingsley Coman at the championship so far?
Lizarazu: He’s played in every game so far, either as a starter or off the bench. You can’t forget that he’s only 20 years old, but he’s certainly an improvement to this France side.
bundesliga.com: Can he cause Germany’s defence problems?
Lizarazu: It’s an advantage that he already knows his opponents from the Bundesliga. With his technical abilities and his speed and energy, he can cause any defence in the world problems. It looks like he’ll start on the bench, but he’ll definitely come on and inject some fresh impetus to France’s game. He can be a dangerous weapon against Germany’s back line.
bundesliga.com: For Germany, it’s fair to say Thomas Müller has enjoyed more fruitful spells in front of goal. Can he find his best form again in this match?
Lizarazu: You should never write off Thomas Müller. I like him, he’s totally authentic. He always gives you entertainment, like against Italy when he constantly argued with Giorgio Chiellini. At the moment he’s not in the greatest form, but I’m confident he’ll still be a really important player for Germany at this tournament. He can decide a game in any action and his unpredictability is his biggest strength. It’s only a matter of time until he scores.
bundesliga.com: Jerome Boateng has become a leading player for Germany. What have you made of his performances so far?
Lizarazu: He’s forged a fantastic partnership with Mats Hummels at the back. He’s developed outstandingly well in the last few months. He tackles well, he’s almost unbeatable in the air and his long, accurate passes get Germany going from the back. He’s become a complete player, one of the best central defenders in the world.
bundesliga.com: Is Joshua Kimmich the biggest discovery of this tournament?
Lizarazu: Definitely. He’s had great games for Bayern this season and now he’s showing on the right side of defence that he’s come a long way, even though he’s still young. He looks composed, focused and confident. He definitely has a great future ahead of him.
bundesliga.com: Would you say Manuel Neuer is even better now than he was at the World Cup in 2014?
Lizarazu: He’s got better, for sure. He’s the best goalkeeper in the world, but at these EUROs he’s looked calmer and more relaxed to me than he did two years ago. It will be a massive challenge for France to get past him.
Interview by Alexis Menuge