Hugo Lloris believes France have evolved as a result of their defeat to Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Mats Hummels’ early header settled a low-key quarter-final contest in Rio de Janeiro two years ago and, after dismissing the notion they are seeking revenge, Lloris claimed the loss was a valuable part of the team’s learning curve.
Ahead of their Euro 2016 semi-final clash in Marseille on Thursday, the France captain said: “There are always lessons to be learned from defeats, as there are [from] victories.
“It’s not just the quarter-final defeat that allowed us to grow, it was the World Cup in general but we came up against a better side on the day, a more experienced team at the time and they succeeded.
“But I think our team has grown, we’ve acquired experience, the players that were involved have stepped up at their clubs and have become more important in the France team.
“Things are going in the right direction but the only thing that matters is what happens on the pitch and we’ll find out about that tomorrow.”
France have met Germany since that game at the Maracana – Les Bleus winning a friendly 2-0 in November 2015, a night marred by terror attacks in Paris.
Lloris added: “It was just a friendly game and nothing can replace genuine competition.
“You can see that with Germany, they have had a slightly inconsistent two years and yet they are here in the semi-finals. We beat them [in November] and had a good performance so we can be inspired by that to an extent but it was just a friendly.
“They currently have a status [of world champions] because of what they achieved in Brazil but we are not looking at who are favourites. We are motivated by our desire to put in a good performance. Mental strength will be important, it’s a semi-final, we are close to the end of the tournament so people are tired, therefore the head will take over.”
France thrashed Iceland 5-2 to get to the last four while Germany required a penalty shoot-out to edge past Italy in Bordeaux, Manuel Neuer emerging as the Germans’ hero.
And Lloris is a big fan of the Bayern Munich goalkeeper.
“He is the reference point in this position,” he said. “After the 2014 World Cup he took on a new status. He’s a very important player who makes a difference, be it at Bayern or with Germany. He certainly did against Italy.
“All I can do is praise him as a goalkeeper. He is part of my generation, we met in the youth teams and the Under-21s and now the national teams. I have a lot of respect for Manuel Neuer.”
Lloris hinted he studied Germany during that shoot-out against Italy in case a similar situation arises on Thursday.
“During tournaments like this when penalties can decide a game, it is important to take on board as much information as possible but you mustn’t focus too much on that, it’s your feeling there and then that counts.
“Penalties takers have evolved and they can place the ball wherever they want to so you try to focus on the small details to get some clues.”