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Spain vs France: Euro 2012 Quarterfinals Preview and Prediction
Published by William | Filed under Euro 2012, France, Predictions, Previews, Spain
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6/23 20:45 CET, Spain vs France – Odds | Stats
The third Euro 2012 quarterfinal is underway Saturday night in Donbass Arena, Donetsk as defending World and European champions Spain take on a much improved French side. While Spain has not played up to their form of the past, La Roja are still favorites to win the match, much less the tournament. France has shown they like to play possessive football, but they are aware that no one out-possesses the Spaniards, the masters of modern tiki-taka. History however, bodes well for the French, as they have never lost a competitive match against their Iberian neighbors. Tactics will be the key in this sure to be entertaining encounter.
Despite winning Group C, it is obvious how much Spain misses David Villa in attack. Fernando Torres is the second option, but only shows up for certain games. The Chelsea striker is still looking for a starting role for club and country and his inconsistency doesn’t help. Nonetheless, Spain are still dominating the midfield and their percentage in possession is soaring. Through the group stage, Spain has controlled 70.3 percent of possession, more than ten percent better than Russia, who is second at 59.3. On top of that, Spain leads the tournament in passes completed at 89.8 percent. While talk in years past has been of Xavi’s brilliance and vision, it is Iniesta that takes the cake. If he doesn’t score himself, the mini-midfielder is typically involved in all of Spain’s goals. More than anyone, Iniesta comes up big in the big ones.
Alvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez are all one booking away from missing the match against Portugal considering they win against France. Arbeloa will have a tough time down the left flank with Frank Ribery who likes to cut infield to his stronger foot. Pique will continue to enforce the back and will be a nightmare for Benzema.
France were looking impressive in their opening matches against England and Ukraine, but are coming off of a 2-0 loss to an already packed for home Sweden. The French have to put that loss behind them and move on in order to have a chance against Spain. Laurent Blanc will not alter the lineup too much, and will again spearhead the attack through Benzema. Scoreless in three games, the Real Madrid striker and former goal poacher is definitely not playing his best football away from club. He often finds himself dropping back in a midfield position that leaves no presence in the box for France. When he does come back to receive, Ribery and Nasri need to make more runs into the area to create these chances that the French are lacking. The pace of Jeremy Menez, Benzema and Ribery will lead the counter attack that will be more needed than ever against the Spanish.
France is without AC Milan Philippe Mexes after the defender picked up a second yellow during the loss to Sweden. Arsenal center back and rookie Laurent Koscielny is the likely replacement. Since the loss, Flourent Malouda, Hatim Ben Arfa and others have admitted more problems in the dressing room that we won’t forget, destroyed the team in South Africa. But, against Spain and with low expectations, the French have less to lose than their rivals. If they can forget about their loss and put the tension aside, this mentality may do well for Les Blues.
Shockingly, France have never lost a competitive match against Spain. The Les Bleus eliminated the Spanish side in the second round of 2006 World Cup and beat Spain in the quarter-finals of Euro 2000. On the other hand, Spain have only lost two competitive matches (USA and Switzerland) in 38 games since losing to the French in 2006. While France is young, they are going through a generation change that has not sat well with staff and players. Spain have showed few signs of losing motivation and are playing to make history in becoming the first country to win three major consecutive tournaments.
Spain 1 – 0 France